Bullet train plan gains speed

Bullet train plan gains speed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation of the Rs 98,000-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor during the latter’s visit to India in September.

The bullet train project will be based on Japanese high-speed technology called Shinkansen, which is known for its safety and comfort. The high-speed train will cover the 508 km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in two hours, down from seven hours now.

The two countries are expected to sign a loan agreement during Abe’s visit between September 12 and September 14. In February 2016, a special purpose vehicle – National High Speed Rail Corporation – was formed to implement the elevated rail corridor project.

The Japanese government has agreed to provide a loan of up to 81 per cent of the project cost, or $12 billion, at 0.1 per cent interest per annum to be repaid in 50 years with a 15-year moratorium, according to sources. The project was sanctioned with a 50 per cent equity participation by the railway ministry and 25 per cent each by the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

India has long been contemplating a high-speed railway network but has been daunted by the high costs involved. The construction of the 500km bullet train link will begin in 2018-end and should be operational by 2023. The originating station in Mumbai will be at the Bandra Kurla Complex. There will be 12 stations on the route.

For detailed designing of the project, Japan has appointed a consortium of consultants led by Japan International Consultants for Transportation, Nippon Koie Group and Oriental Structures. The joint feasibility study was done in 2015, and after that follow-up studies were conducted to finalise standards and specifications for the project.

In addition to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor, five corridors are being explored; Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Calcutta, Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur corridors. Trains on these corridors will run at speed of over 300 kmph.

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