09 March, 2021

“HSR Would Probably Not Be Immediately Justifiable”

“HSR Would Probably Not Be Immediately Justifiable”

High speed rail (HSR) may not probably be justifiable immediately in a financial sense, but might well be justifiable in the total economic sense, says Louis S. Thompson, Principal of Thompson, Galenson and Associates and a former World Bank transport expert. Excerpts from an email interview with Lola Nayar.

Given your past study of Indian Railways, how feasible is the bullet train plan?

Physically the plan is feasible, perhaps even easy given India's topography. The difficult challenge to engineering feasibility in India would clearly be land acquisition, resettlement and fencing the ROW from trespassers. Economic feasibility is a harder question. There will certainly be demand for HSR services, as India's existing rail passenger demand patterns demonstrate (IR carries more passenger/km than any other railway in the world). At the same time, it is clear that high prices might limit demand while low prices would limit financial feasibility. This can only be answered with careful and professional demand...

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