For the first time, the Indian Railways is unwilling to disclose the probable deadline for completing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train project. This is mainly because of several issues as far as land acquisition is concerned in Maharashtra. In fact, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHRCL) has been struggling to find a bidder to construct an underground BKC station for over a year now.
On June 2, the Chairman and CEO of Railway Board; Suneet Sharma said that it will be difficult to comment on the time frame that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project will take. “On the Gujarat portion, we have acquired 95 percent of land and the remaining portion will also happen. In Maharashtra, there are issues with land acquisition even at Bandra Kurla Complex or for the under-water tunnel. We have started work wherever land is being made available and the contract is being awarded,” said Sharma.
Sources said that the Bullet train will terminate at Vapi in the first phase from Ahmedabad and then the second phase will happen. Until now, the Indian Railways has been maintaining that the deadline for completing India’s first Bullet Train project was 2023. Now, due to issues of land acquisition, probable political differences between the Maharashtra government and Centre and local problems is more or less stalled the line in the state of Maharashtra.
In Maharashtra, the government has acquired 23 percent of the land with major problems in Dahanu where the locals are against the project. Earlier last year, there have been problems at Thane as well where the project will come after changing alignment, then proceed towards BKC where it shall terminate.
In this Union Budget, funds to the tune of Rs 7,897 crore have been allotted for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. The delay in land acquisition in Maharashtra and a year lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic had pushed the timeline for finishing the project further from the targeted year of 2023.
Of the 350 kms of the bullet train project in Gujarat, tenders for 325 kms have already been awarded. Gujarat has eight stations, and work for five stations is already awarded. Work of three stations including Ahmedabad, Sabarmati and Vadodara along with other civil works is also in process. The testing tracks for the bullet trains which will be initially imported from Japan will be made between Bilimora and Surat.
Trial run is expected to start on this 50kms section by 2023-24. Senior officials said that this Rs 1.08 lakh crore project is likely to go till 2028 for the entire 508 kms route to be complete. Japan will manufacture a fleet of 49 trains of series E5 Shinkansen to operate this route.