NEW DELHI: The second bullet train after the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor will run from Delhi to Varanasi, a distance of 782 km, and could complete the journey in just two hours and 40 minutes.
The project connecting the capital to the pilgrimage city, which is also PM Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, while passing through Lucknow has been fast-tracked ahead of the UP polls next year.
Though it will be a while before the service rolls out, the Delhi-Varanasi stretch — part of the Delhi-Kolkata corridor — has been accorded topmost priority for the railways after the national transporter accelerated the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch by tying up funds with Japan and setting up of the High Speed Rail Corporation.
Fast-tracking of the stretch seems to be part of the Modi regime’s strategy to project a pro-development image ahead of UP polls. The Delhi-Varanasi stretch will pass through Aligarh, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow and Sultanpur.An official said the interim report by a Spanish firm, which is conducting feasibility study of the high-speed rail corridor, was discussed by the Railway Board and the firm is likely to submit its final report in November.As per the report, the travel time between Delhi and Lucknow (506 km) is likely to be 1 hour 45 minutes while travel between Delhi to Kolkata (1,513 km) will take 4 hours 56 minutes.
The preliminary cost, without rolling stock, being worked out is estimated to be about Rs 43,000 crore for the Delhi-Varanasi stretch and around Rs 84,000 crore for the entire Delhi-Kolkata corridor. However, an official said the final cost will be worked out only after detailed field study of the finally chosen alignment. The possibility of operating doubledecker high speed trains on this section is also being explored by the consultant.