Indian Railways Plans $9 billion in Investments for 2010, Advances High-Speed Rail

» Six new passenger lines being considered for service at speeds above 250 km/h.

Revealing her plans for India’s railroads in a speech this week on this year’s budget, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee committed to the development of high-speed rail corridors throughout the country, even as she reaffirmed her promise to ensure continued investment in India’s conventional train network, which she framed as a social necessity. Her budget includes $9 billion in spending on the maintenance and upgrading of existing rail corridors, up 2.8% from last year’s budget.

With 18 million daily passengers, a staff of 1.4 million employees, and 17,000 trains operating on 64,000 kilometers of track, India maintains one of the world’s largest rail systems, arguably only matched by China’s. Yet it has thus far been unwilling to commit to a major speed-up of any

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Indian Commitment to Heavy Rail Adds Perspective on U.S. Funding System

Indian national government would finance 50% of locally-approved metro rapid transit projects in cities with more than one million inhabitants. The United States, meanwhile, has no set policy on how to finance public transportation.

Jeff at the Overhead Wire pointed to the Indian parliament’s recently approved bill that will provide a 50% commitment from the national government for any metro rail projects that have received a 50% financial guarantee from their respective cities. The U.S. government, on the other hand, has been unable to establish similar uniform standards that define how new transit projects are financed. India could provide a useful example to demonstrate how funding relationships between multiple levels of government can be standardized.

Apart from China, India’s cities collectively have the largest heavy rail transit expansion program in the world. Of the 42 cities in the country with more than one million inhabitants, thirteen are advancing the transportation mode.

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Indian Cities Recognize that Solving the Climate Crisis Doesn’t Involve Promoting Automobiles

Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai see large new metro networks as true climate solution

Last week in the New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman wrote about a couple of Americans he met in India who were driving a solar and electricity-powered car around India. They spend their days excitedly showing people there the technology’s potential, hoping to convince lawmakers and entrepreneurs to invest in more sustainable transport. One of those individuals said the following:

“India is full of climate innovators, so spread out across this huge country that many people don’t get to see that these solutions are working right now. We wanted to find a way to bring people together around existing solutions to inspire more action and more innovation. There’s no time left to just talk about the problem.”

Mr. Friedman lauds the pair for their work, but I’m not sure that what they’re doing makes all that much sense. After

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Transpo Committee Members Oppose Limited Transit Funds in Stimulus; U.K. High-Speed 2; Hyderabad Metro Stalls

House Transportation Committee Members Express Opposition to Transit Funding in Draft Stimulus Bill

We discussed the text of the stimulus bill yesterday, decrying its rather limited investment in transit, and the fact that it would allocate far less to transit and high-speed rail projects than would have Congressman Jim Oberstar’s Rebuild America proposal, even while maintaining the level of support planned for highways. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that some congressmen, especially those on the Transportation Committee, are calling foul:

Some members of the House transportation committee objected to the proposed level of investment during a Democratic caucus session Thursday, and several members later spoke out during a committee meeting. Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.) suggested the committee draft a letter or resolution to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objecting to the transport section of the stimulus bill.

Rep. Oberstar suggested the committee “mobilize those practitioners of

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by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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