India’s bullet train on the slow track

  • Srinand Jha, None, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 29, 2015 23:55 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project of building the 508-kilometre long Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed line to reduce travel time between the two cities to a flat two hours will take at least ten years to build and operationalise, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has indicated.

The Japanese agency, which is surveying plans to enable trains to run at 350 kilometres per hour on the route, has estimated the project cost at Rs 70,000 crore, minus the costs of escalation and interest repayment during the construction period.

The Jica has recommended that in line with international practices, India’s first high-speed corridor be built on the standard gauge.

If work on executing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line is taken up within this year, construction work can begin in 2017 after the closure of the design and bidding process and rolling stock procurement can be completed from 2018 to 2023, according to the Jica’s project implementation plan.

“The project has witnessed lack of activity in the first year of NDA rule but will gather momentum after the Jica’s final survey report is submitted in July,” a senior ministry official said.

The Japanese funding agency, which has offered a soft but tied loan for executing the project, has confirmed the financial viability of the project by indicating a positive economic rate of return of 11%.

Including the Mumbai and Sabarmati stations, the corridor will have 12 stations, with maximum stoppages of two minutes proposed at Surat, Vadodara and Ahmedabad.

Other stations, including Thane, Virar, Vapi, Bilimora and Surat, will have a stoppages of one minute each.

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