Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project In Full Swing, Says Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav After Inspecting Works At Proposed BKC Station

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project In Full Swing, Says Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav After Inspecting Works At Proposed BKC Station

Vaishnav said that the Surat-Bilimora section, covering 508 km of the Mumbai and Ahmedabad corridor, might become operational by July-August 2026.

Kamal MishraUpdated: Friday, February 23, 2024, 07:42 PM IST
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Ashwini Vaishnav inspecting proposed BKC Station ongoing works | FPJ

Mumbai, February 23: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said on Friday that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project could have advanced further if the previous Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra had expedited permissions. However, he also stated that the project is now in full swing in both Maharashtra and Gujarat. According to Vaishnav high-speed railway corridor is poised to bring about substantial economic growth. On Friday Vaishnav inspected the ongoing work of bullet train project in Mumbai.

During inspection of the proposed bullet train station at BKC, Vaishnav said that the Surat-Bilimora section, covering 508 km of the Mumbai and Ahmedabad corridor, might become operational by July-August 2026. He added that subsequent sections will follow suit in a phased manner.

An official from the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) said that over 40% of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is already completed. The remaining work is in full swing, aiming for full completion by 2028. The project holds the promise of transforming the region's transportation landscape and contributing to overall developmental goals.

The bullet train corridor will have 'limited stop' and 'all stop' services like Mumbai local. While the limited-stop trains will cover the distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in just two hours seven minutes, the other service will take about 2 hours 45 minutes, the minister said. A total of 12 stations have been planned for the project, which is being implemented by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL).

Vaishnav Slams Previous Uddhav-Led Govt:

"Had the (then) Uddhav Thackeray government given all the permissions faster, this project might have progressed much ahead by now," Vaishnav said. He said as soon as the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis (Shiv Sena-BJP) government came to power in the state, permissions were given in 10 days.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government under Thackeray fell in 2022 after Shinde split the Shiv Sena with his rebellion. Shinde then aligned with the BJP to form the government and became the chief minister, with Fadnavis taking the deputy CM's post. The railway minister said that the 284-km-long bullet train corridor viaduct is ready in Gujarat, where work has progressed speedily. It is now happening at the same speed in Maharashtra as well, he said.

The Thackeray government, unfortunately, delayed the project much but they will try to "make up for it now", he said. High-speed rail projects should be seen from an economical standpoint and not as transport initiatives. With high-speed connectivity, areas like Mumbai, Thane, Vapi, Surat, Vadodara, Anand and Ahmedabad will turn into a single economic zone and it will give them a "big economic boost", the railway minister asserted.

Tunnel Construction In Full Swing:

To speed up tunnel construction, Vaishnaw said, innovations have been made and work was started from four points at a time. Of the four points two are shafts, one ADIT (additionally driven intermediate tunnel) and one final point at BKC (Bandra-Kurla Complex) station. He said that there are complexities and difficulties tied to the corridor as trains will run at 320 kmph on it. "But our biggest aim in this project is to understand this complete technology," he said.

The bullet train corridor has a 21-km-long tunnel, including a 7-km undersea stretch, he said, calling the work challenging. The deepest point of the tunnel is 56 metres and it will also be very wide with a width of 40 feet. Inside the tunnel too, the trains will run at the speed of 300-320 kmph, Vaishnaw said.

"We have many cities having a population of over 1 crore. To give them low-cost and less time (consuming) transport systems, our country needs to achieve expertise in such technology," he said. According to NHSRCL, the 21-km shaft, which will have India's first undersea tunnel, is coming up between BKC in Mumbai and Shilphata in neighbouring Thane district. It will be a single tube tunnel having Up and Down tracks.

Work on the tunnel is underway at BKC, Vikhroli and Ghansoli. NHSRCL said they are facing multiple challenges at these shaft construction sites, which have high population density and several utilities like pipelines, electrical installation and infrastructure projects, including the Metro and highways.

"Three Tunnel Boring Machines will be used to make about 16 km of the tunnel portion and the remaining 5 km will be through New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM)," NHSRCL said. The cost of the project is pegged at Rs 1.08 lakh crore and as per its shareholding pattern, the Government of India is to pay Rs 10,000 crore to the NHSRCL, while the two states involved, Gujarat and Maharashtra, are to pay Rs 5,000 crore each. The rest is to be funded by Japan through a loan carrying 0.1 per cent interest.

About Proposed Bullet Train Station At BKC

Ground Level

Station Entrances

Ventilation Shafts

Security and Baggage Screening

Central Landscape and Skylight

At 1st Basement Level

Equipment Room

At 2nd Basement Level

Unpaid and Paid Concourse

Business Class Lounge

Ticket office, Ticket Vending Machines and customer care

commercial shops

3rd Basement Level

6 Terminal Platforms

Platform Operational Rooms

Station Control Rooms

Construction Work Underway At Following Locations:

- Shaft 1 at Mumbai Bullet- Train station construction site: Shaft depth of 36 meters, 100% secant piling work completed, excavation work is currently underway

- Shaft 2 in Vikhroli -Shaft depth of Se meters, 100% piling work completed, excavation work is currently underway. This shaft will be used to lower two tunnel boring machines in two different directions, one towards BKC and another one towards

- Shaft 3 in Sawli (near Ghansoli): Shaft depth of 39 meters, excavation work is currently underway 

- Shilphata- This is the NATM end of the tunnel. Portal work has already begun at the site.

Progress Of Proposed BKC Station:

The land required for constructing the BKC station, which is about 4.8 hectares, has been handed over to the contractor by NHSRCL (National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited). The station will be built using the bottom-up method, which means that excavation work will commence from the ground level and concrete work will start from the foundation.

The excavation required for the station is quite extensive, reaching a depth of 32 meters (almost 10 floors of normal residential building), with an approximate volume of around 18 lakh cubic meters. The excavation in the station area has begun, and about 2 lakh cubic metre earth is already excavated and disposed. The secant piles are concurrently being supported with soil anchors at specific intervals (ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 meters) as the excavation progresses. Currently 774 Workers working at site.

The required rate of excavation is about 6000 cubic metre per day, in terms of number of trips 400-450 trips of dumpers. It's a big challenge to achieve this volume in the heart of Mumbai. To safely carry out such deep excavation, a ground support system must be constructed to prevent the soil from collapsing. This support system will involve the construction of 3382 secant piles, each ranging from 17 to 21 meters in depth. All the secant piles have been constructed.

As this construction site is centrally located in business district of Bandra Kurla Complex and surrounded by high end residential complexes and office buildings, it becomes even more important for NHSRCL to make sure that construction work progresses without causing much inconvenience to the residents, office goers in the business district and traffic movement. All this is ensured keeping Mumbai vehicle entry restrictions, blasting restrictions, dust control and prevention measures in mind.

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