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Want to drive India’s first bullet train? Knowing Japanese could be your ticket

The minimum educational qualification for drivers of the bullet train is likely to be Bachelor’s degree. An engineering degree will not, however, be compulsory.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2018 08:21 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Japan,Bullet Train,Bullet Train in India
The high-speed Japanese bullet trains, known as the Shinkansen, at Tokyo station. The trains are capable of hitting top speeds of 320-350 km per hour.(AP)

In addition to other qualifications, knowledge of the Japanese language could be a useful asset for those aspiring to drive the super-fast Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train when the project becomes operational by 2023. That’s because the drivers will be trained by experts in Japan, most of whom don’t speak English.

“We are thinking over it; there may be some surprise also,” said Achal Khare, managing director of the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL), which is executing the project. “Globally each place is different, in Japan they took (to bullet trains) from a normal train. Only common element is a psychometry test, which will be mandatory here also, because everybody’s response to a situation is different.”

Psychometric tests are designed to measure an individual’s suitability for a role based on his personality characteristics and aptitude. They identify the extent to which a candidate’s personality and cognitive abilities match those required for the role he has to perform.

“Another requirement could be knowledge of the Japanese language because you have to learn from Japanese. This is something we will have to take a call on as those on the ground level in Japan don’t know English. And if you are not able to communicate, then how will you learn?. We have not yet decided but this could be one of the criteria,” Khare added.

The foundation stone for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinto Abe last year. Known in Japan as the ‘Shinkansen,’ on new trunk line, the introduction of the bullet train will mark the country’s shift from an era of slow-speed trains to high-speed ones.

The minimum educational qualification for drivers of the bullet train, capable of hitting top speeds of 320-350 km per hour, is likely to be Bachelor’s degree. An engineering degree will not, however, be compulsory. NHSRCL will initially hire 56 bullet train drivers and around 50 station masters.

“We have to send about 360 people together for training in Japan in 2-3 years of which 56 are drivers. Others belong to different categories such as track maintainers, signal maintainers, station masters,” Khare added.

The corporation has already started basic training select engineering and other staff, who keep interacting with visiting Japanese delegations, in the Japanese language.

“Training in Japan would range from three months to nine months. The hiring process will start by end of 2019 and training will start thereafter,” a second official at NHSRCL said, on condition of anonymity.

“The technologies are advanced and people in Japan also know basic English. Even learning Japanese is not that difficult,” said Sarvesh Kumar, who is an advisor to several metro projects and has worked with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), where he liaised with Japanese delegations.

“The Delhi a successful example of the India-Japan partnership, so it (language gap) should not be a problem for the bullet train,” he added.

The 35 bullet trains with 10 coaches each, which will initially run on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, will have one business class coach and nine standard coaches each. The trains will come with advanced operational technologies and offer a variety of passenger amenities.

The land acquisition process is underway for the 508-km long corridor. The lowest fare is expected to be R 250 and there will be a cap of R 3,000 on the fare.

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 08:16 IST