New Delhi: The Indian Railways’ ambitious project of reducing travel time by interconnecting four major metros—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata—with a high-speed network of trains running at 160kmph is looking at an August 2022 launch, sources said.

The current average speed of trains on this network is around 88-90kmph. Christened “Golden Quadrilateral", the project envisages creation of a 10,000km network of semi-high speed routes connecting the four major cities and is likely to be launched on 15 August 2022, to coincide with 75 years of Independence.

In a meeting on 28 November, the railway board started the process of drawing up a blueprint to interconnect the four metros: Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah, Delhi-Chennai, Chennai-Howrah, Chennai-Mumbai and Howrah-Mumbai.

The project has been appraised by Niti Aayog and is awaiting cabinet sanction. “We are still finalizing the blueprint and efforts are on to officially launch the project by August 2022 to coincide with the celebrations around India’s 75th year of Independence. However, everything depends on how we manage to meet every deadline set for the project", a railway official said.

While the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes were included in Budget 2017-2018 at a cost of Rs11,189 crore and Rs6,975 crore respectively, the estimates for the other four routes are under process for inclusion in the works programme 2018-2019.

The board is likely to finalize a detailed cost estimate for the remaining routes by 31 December this year, officials said. Sources in the ministry say that an extra budgetary allocation of around Rs36,000 crore will be required for the project.