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NEW DELHI : India is likely to kick off two more bullet train projects in 2022-23, two government officials aware of the plans said, even as work on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor proceeds at a slow pace.

The Union budget 2022-23 may announce a New Delhi to Varanasi high-speed rail corridor, the officials cited above said on condition of anonymity, adding a Mumbai-Nagpur corridor is also likely, depending on the rail ministry receiving clarity on funding it.

The railways received the detailed project report (DPR) on the New Delhi-Varanasi corridor from the National High Speed Rail Corp. Ltd (NHSRCL) in November. According to an NHSRCL spokesperson, a detailed project report for the Mumbai-Nagpur corridor is in the final stages, and it will be submitted to the railway ministry in the first quarter of the next fiscal. Work on preparing DPR for five more bullet train projects is also progressing well, and NHSRCL may be able to complete them within FY23, the spokesperson added.

An email sent to a railway ministry spokesperson remained unanswered.

According to initial estimates, the Delhi-Varanasi project will cost around 1.5 trillion, while the Mumbai-Nagpur corridor could cost slightly less.

According to the NHSRCL spokesperson, the detailed project report on the Delhi-Varanasi corridor includes multiple studies that the corporation has conducted on the kind of expected ridership, impact on surrounding villages, land requirement, social impact assessment and effect on the environment.

Currently, India’s first bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is being executed by NHSRCL.

Work is proceeding slowly on this project, with challenges in route alignment and acquisition.

The 500km-plus section will entail an investment of more than 1 trillion, with trains plying at close to 300km per hour, using Japanese E5 Shinkansen technology.

A trial run on a small 50km section—Surat to Vilimura—of this project is expected sometime in 2026. The investment on the project so far is 39,000 crore.

Last year, the railway ministry sanctioned feasibility studies for seven more bullet train corridors, in addition to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad section. These are Delhi-Amritsar, Varanasi-Howrah, Delhi-Varanasi, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Mumbai-Nagpur and Chennai-Mysore.

Apart from the bullet train, the national transporter also invites private players to run trains on the Indian Railways network.

The ambitious project is expected to entail private investments worth 30,000 crore.

Twelve clusters have been identified by Indian Railways involving over 100 routes and the introduction of 150 private trains.

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