Piyush Goyal, new Railway Minister has said that the work on India’s first high-speed train popularly known as ‘bullet train’ will kick-start on September 14 with a foundation stone laying ceremony in Ahmedabad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will on Thursday lay the foundation stone. The bullet train technology would “revolutionise and transform the transport sector. It will benefit the farmers for transportation of agricultural produce in a fast mode.
The high-speed rail was envisioned by PM Modi to take Indian Railways towards most modern technologies like the developed countries. With Indian Railways adopting such technologies, the bullet train was an endeavour to bring economic growth and prosperity in the country. The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project will entail an estimated cost of Rs. 1,10,000 crore. However, Abe has indicated Japan, is expected to sign as many as 10 memorandums of understandings. It is also expected Japan will increase its investment into Gujarat from present $1 billion to $3 billion.
The project will be based on Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail technology and Japan is also providing a soft loan of 880 bln rupees, accounting for 81% of the total estimated project cost of 1.08 trln rupees. The soft loan has been provided at a rate of interest of 0.1% per annum with a repayment period of 50 years, which includes a grace period of 15 years. High-speed railway is a railway system wherein the running speed of trains is 250 km per hour or above. India was a lone exception among major passenger railway systems not to have a high-speed railway system. Travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad on the high-speed rail link is estimated between two and three hours versus the travel time by train of seven to eight hours at present. The length of the rail corridor will be around 508 km and it will have 12 stations.
The details of the train are being worked out by officials from the ministry of Railways. According to sources, the Railways has planned to run two types of bullet trains on the basis of their speed. The high-speed train will halt at all ten stations on the proposed high-speed corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, while the rapid high-speed train will halt only at major stations. According to the initial proposal, the high-speed train will take 2.58 hours to reach the destination, and the rapid high-speed will cover the distance in 2.07 hours. The high-speed train will also pass through the country’s biggest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea. Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent in tunnel and the rest two per cent will be on the ground. That is, 508 km stretch will have 468 km of elevated track, 27 km inside tunnel and the remaining 13 km on the ground.
On the other hand, the fare structure of the bullet train is yet to be finalised, but according to officials from the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC), it will be 1.5 times the first class AC fare of trains running on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. The fare of a first class ticket between Mumbai to Ahmedabad ranges between Rs 1,800 to Rs 3,000. Thus, the fare structure of the bullet train is expected to range anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, depending on their speed. On the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route, total 12 stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. And, if the bullet train will stop at all 12 stations, then it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes. In a day, the high-speed train will make 70 Ahmedabad-Mumbai sorties. A total of 24 high-speed trains will be imported from Japan and then rest of the rakes will be manufactured in India.