At a time when Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed Bullet train project is moving at snail's pace; the Central government is looking at two new lines; Mumbai-Nashik-Nagpur and Mumbai-Pune-Hyderabad. The railway authorities claim that while the first route is within the state. The second is going to connect in phases and then head towards Hyderabad. These two bullet train lines will connect major cities in Maharashtra, which otherwise isn't the case with the first high-speed rail line which the state government claims that it will mainly help the neighbouring state.
The Indian Railways is exploring whether the corridors would be viable to run high-speed Bullet Trains with speeds above 300 kmph. Surveys are being done for 741 km long high-speed rail corridor from Mumbai to Nagpur via Nashik. And Mumbai-Pune-Hyderabad of 711 km is also being surveyed. In the General Budget 2021-22 announced by Nirmala Sitharaman, the Indian Railways has been provided funds of Rs 1.10 lakh crore of which Rs 1.07 lakh crore will be allotted for capital expenditure.
Senior railway officials said that this is among the biggest reasons why the railways are confident of taking these seven high-speed rail corridors covering a massive 4,869 km, forward in their plans. Of the seven, two of them will connect Mumbai that shall cover 1464 km. "Currently detailed project report is being prepared for the new rail corridors for the proposed high-speed rail lines. In these, we will be able to finalize the detailed alignment of the routes," said a senior railway official.
Moreover, these two new rail lines are within the state connecting important cities and so chances of getting planned and executed faster are higher. On the other hand, there is another view regarding the announcements made for growth in the railway's infrastructure. Experts and former railway officials, on condition of anonymity, said that the return on investment has dropped to 0.8 percent as against 7 percent under normal circumstances.
"If returns on investment are so poor then how will these mega-projects generate revenue or private companies come forth in constricting these new lines," said a former railway official.