An ambitious high speed train project in south India has been delayed after the Chinese railways that completed a feasibility study a year ago, did not respond, railway officials have said.
Officials claim the “lack of response” may be due to the Doklam standoff.
An internal brief of the Mobility Directorate on the status of nine high-speed projects of the railways, accessed by news agency PTI, shows that the 492 km Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor lies in limbo because the Chinese railways has failed to respond to the ministry’s communiques.
The ministry officials suggest that the recent standoff between the two countries in Bhutan’s Doklam area between June 16 and August 28 this year seems to have derailed the project. “The study began in 2014 and they submitted the report in 2016. The entire cost was borne by them. In fact they have shown so much interest in collaborating with us for other projects as well, so we think that it was the standoff that must have raised doubts,” said a senior rail official.
The brief also states that the Railway Board has been unable to get in touch with officials of China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC) despite repeated communications sent to them via mails in the last six months. “We have even tried to get in touch with them through their Embassy here, but we are yet to hear from them,” said an official.
Troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The brief, prepared by the department in charge of all the high speed corridors, also states that except the Chinese roadblock, work on the eight other projects was on track.
China has shown interest in the high-speed train projects in India. Apart from showing interest in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed network, that was finally bagged by Japan, Beijing has also pitched for the bullet project in the Mumbai-Delhi sector, which is yet to be finalised.
China is also training railway engineers in heavy hauling and it is with Chinese collaboration that India is setting up its first railway university.
The Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor is one of nine such high speed corridors being developed by the ministry. The aim was to increase the speed from the present 80 kmph to 160 kmph.
While the Delhi-Agra route was made operational in 2016 with the country’s fastest train Gatimaan Express running between the two cities, the work on rest seven of eight of 8 is going at a fast pace, the brief indicated.