The Tokyo-based Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS) predicts that the 492 kilometre-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed line, once built, will be able to grab 20% passenger share of the transport sector — which could go up to 40% in the event of a decision to bring Goa within the loop by extending the length to 785 km.
“Given India’s big population and high economic growth coupled with the trend of rapid urbanization, the climate is ideal and ripe for the launch of high speed railway projects”, GRIPS’s Professor Shigeru Morichi told HT in an interview.
The experience of Japan — a pioneer in high speed rail projects with a remarkable accident free record in the last 50 years — shows that India’s big passenger volumes could actually help to keep fares within reasonable limits.
Setting off its fleet of 320 ‘Shinkansen’ (bullet trains with top speeds of 350 kmph) after a gap of every 15 minutes — the fares of these high speed trains have been kept only marginally higher than the fares of conventional trains.
The Shinkansen, for example, charges a fare of ¥4,930 yen covers the 105 km distance from Ueno to Takasaki in 45 minutes, against a fare of ¥3,800 of conventional trains — which take almost double the time to complete the journey. The 104.6 km distance from Tokyo to Atami is covered by the Shinkansen in 50 minutes at a price of ¥4,190, while the conventional train charges ¥3,800 to cover the same distance in 80 minutes.
“By running high speeds after a gap of every 10 minutes on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line, it should be eminently possible to keep passenger fares at par or marginally lower than the air fares”, said an official of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
Once the 751 km Bangkok-Chingmai high speed line is built, Thailand’s high speed rail will account for 60% of the passenger share against 30% of roads and 10% of conventional rail.
(The writer’s visit has been sponsored by the Tokyo-based International Press Centre of Japan)