A pre-feasibility report jointly conducted by a consortium of Systra, France, Italffer, Italy, and Rites, India suggests annual ridership on the 650km route would be around 1.1 million.

Pre-feasibility studies have also been completed on three other corridors: Delhi – Lucknow – Patna (991km) Howrah – Haldia (135km) and Hyderabad – Chennai (664km). However, the Indian government has decided to concentrate initially on only the Pune – Mumbai – Ahmedabad corridor.

Japan Railway Technical Service (Jarts), Systra, and Mott MacDonald are among the companies that have offered to participate in the project.

"We are talking to the Chinese, Japanese and European governments about developing high-speed rail," a ministry official said.

A study conducted by the German Institute of Vehicle Concepts (DLR) indicates the potential for 35 possible high-speed lines in India, ranging from a distance of 289km (Chennai – Bangalore) to 778km (Delhi – Ahmedabad).

Meanwhile, the Indian government is also moving ahead with plans to establish a National High Speed Rail Authority (NHSRA). A bill to create this body, which will act as a facilitator and regulator for the high-speed network, has been prepared and is expected to be processed by parliament in November.

Draft NHRSA guidelines say that India will seek to implement the high speed projects as PPPs with two procurement options being considered. The first involves appointing a single developer to work on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis. The second would see projects tendered as separate contract. The aim would be to attract more bidders with greater affordability in terms of size and risk allocation.