New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe inaugurated India’s first bullet train project on Thursday morning. News18 looks at what the fuss around India’s first “bullet train” is all about.
How fast can it go?
The Indian Railways network is the largest in the world and yet, it does not have a high-speed train. Colloquially referred to simply as “Bullet Train”, this train will be able to achieve an average speed of over 250 kmph. While it was designed to run at a maximum speed of 350 kmph, it will have the capability of achieving an operational maximum speed of 320 kmph. Presently available in 15 countries around the globe, it will be among the top ten fastest trains in the world. The fastest, however, remains the Maglev which runs in Shanghai, China at a speed of 430 kmph.
How long before it is ready?
The government has promised that the first ‘Bullet train’ will run in less than five years. The MAHSR project received cabinet approval in 2015 and within two years, construction has already begun. The government had earlier set a deadline for December 2023. However, newly appointed Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal on Monday announced that the government had advanced the date of completion by more than a year. Goyal said the Bullet Train will make its first trip between Mumbai and Ahmedabad on August 15, 2022 – when India completes 75 years of independence.
Where can I board this train?
The bullet train will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad and will be linked by a total of 12 stations. Train will stop at Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad, and Sabarmati stations. The Mumbai station will be underground while all others will be elevated.
How much time will the Mumbai-Ahmedabad journey take?
Currently, a train journey between Mumbai and Ahmedabad can take anywhere between 7-8 hours. With the bullet train, passengers will be able to travel this distance in around 2-3 hours. If the train stops only at select stations, it will cover the distance in 2 hours and 7 minutes. If it stops at all 12 stations, it will take 2 hours and 58 minutes. The total distance of this high-speed rail link will be 508 kms. The bulk of this link, 351 kms, will run through the state of Gujarat – the PM’s home state – while 156 kms will run through the state of Maharashtra. A brief track of 2 kms will also pass through the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
How much will it cost and who’s paying for it?
The project is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japanese firm Shinkansen Technology. The total estimated cost is Rs. 1.08 lakh crore for the first rail link. Japan has agreed to give a soft loan to India, which will fund 81% of the entire project. According to the Ministry of Railways, such a loan from a body such as the World Bank would carry an interest of 5-7% with a repayment period of 25-35 years. However, the Japanese loan comes at an interest rate of 0.1% and India can repay it over a period of 50 years. The Indian government went as far as to say this loan was “tantamount to a grant”. The government of India will directly bear the rest of the cost.
The project is expected to generate employment as well since over 20,000 people will employed during the construction and they will be used for similar projects in the future. Around 300 Indian Railway employees are currently being trained in Japan and an additional 4,000 will be trained at a High Speed Rail Training Institute at Vadodara, which will be operational by 2020.
Will other cities get the bullet train too?
Even the construction of the MAHSR project is being rolled out, the government is currently reviewing the feasibility of six other High-Speed Rail Links. These are Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Chandigarh, Mumbai-Nagpur and Delhi-Nagpur High-Speed Rail Links.