India and China are likely to sign an agreement soon for conducting a feasibility study for setting up a 1,700-km-long high-speed rail line between New Delhi and Chennai. The two sides had agreed to cooperate in the project during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September. A five-member team of Indian Railway officials, headed by High Speed Rail Corporation Chairman Satish Agnihotri, is in China since Monday and a deal could be signed this week, according to officials. The team is in talks with China High Speed Rail Corporation officials.
The Delhi-Chennai rail link is a part of the Diamond Quadrilateral project under which six such corridors are being planned — Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Chennai-Kolkata, Kolkata-Delhi and Mumbai-Kolkata. In addition, Japan is currently preparing a feasibility study for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor. Once commissioned, the Delhi-Chennai link will reduce the time of travel between the two metro cities to around six hours as compared to the current 28 hours for a Rajdhani travel. While the railway ministry has not disclosed the cost estimate for the project, the 500 kilometer Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor is estimated to cost around Rs 60,000 crore. The study will be carried out by China National Railway Administration and China Railway Construction Corporation. China has so far won high speed rail contracts for projects in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and is looking at newer geographies to export its high speed technology.