The Union Budget has allocated Rs 1,114 crore for speeding up the New Delhi – Howrah (via Kanpur and Gaya) route and Rs 500 crore for the New Delhi – Mumbai (via Kota and Vadodara) Rajdhani route..
The upgrade aims to increase maximum speeds on these routes to between 160-200 kph from the current 130-160 kph.
Once the project is complete, both Rajdhanis are expected to take 12 hours or less to cover the distance between New Delhi – Howrah and New Delhi – Mumbai.
The proposal is being considered for funding under Extra-Budgetary Resources (EBR) institutional finance (IF). This head is for funds borrowed from entities such as LIC.
The concept first found its way into the Indian Railways’ Pink Book last year. The Pink Book contains a list of works to be undertaken by IR in the financial year, with the budgetary allocation for every proposed item for the year. The upgrade project was sanctioned at an estimated total cost of Rs 11,189 crore and Rs. 6,975 crore for Delhi- Mumbai and Delhi- Howrah corridors respectively.
The proposal is currently awaiting the finance ministry’s clearance after having received Niti Aayog’s nod, said sources. Once the ministry approves, the proposal will be put before the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) for its nod.
It is learnt that in August 2018, the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) had sent this proposal back to the Niti Aayog and the Ministry of Finance asking for “scrutiny of desirability and estimates” of both the projects.
RITES, a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), has been nominated for the execution upgrades on the Delhi- Mumbai route. The Delhi – Howrah route is to be taken up by another PSU – IRCON.
While the proposal has been moving through approvals from various bodies, no clear timelines seem defined for completion of the project so far.