The ambitious high-spe-ed rail project is gaining momentum with several states actively pursuing it.
The response from state governments has given the railway ministry the confidence that there is demand for the project. Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are some of the states that have written to the ministry expressing interest in the project.
Of these, Punjab and Kerala have already announced plans to set up a high-speed rail system in their states.
Even as the preparatory work for the project is being done, with the railways surveying routes for construction of high-speed corridors, the ministry is understood to have zeroed in on leveraging railway land as well as carbon credits as two streams of revenue that can be earned from the project in order to fund construction and operation of the high-speed network.
Most states also prefer a public-private partnership option as they are unsure whether they would be able to invest in the project.
“The project will definitely require the railways to look at some revenue streams which would help plough some money into the project. One method of raising money that has been looked at is to hand over land to private players and to allow them to develop the property,” said a person close to the project who didn’t want his name used.
The railways has adopted this strategy of leveraging land for many of its recent ventures, including modernizing 20 railway stations recently and building budget hotels. The ministry also plans to earn from carbon credits as high-speed rail is considered a “clean” technology.
In a presentation before the Prime Minister’s Office in April on the high-speed rail project, the railways said the energy consumption per km is 3.5 times lower than private cars and five times lower than aeroplanes. The emission levels would be “4.5 times lower than even green cars” transporting the equivalent number of people, the ministry officials had said in their presentation.