The train is expected to reduce travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to less than three hours from the current seven hours.
New Delhi: With the aim of making a big splash on India completing 75 years of independence, the Modi government is gearing up to flag off the first bullet train in the country by advancing the launch to August 15, 2022.
On September 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce the advancing of the date of the launch of the much-awaited high-speed train that will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, from the earlier target of March 2023.
Along with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Modi will lay the foundation stone on September 14 at Sabaramati to announce the commencement of work on the 508 km-long high-speed rail route.
The bullet train, with the capacity to accommodate 750 people, is expected to reduce the travel time between the two major metropolises to less than three hours from the current seven hours.
Japan is partially funding the bullet train project. It is estimated that of the Rs 1,10,000 crore that will be spent on the project, Japan will give India a loan of Rs 88,000 crore. These loans will be available at 0.1% interest and India can repay them in 50 years.
Apart from this, work on a passenger terminal at Sabarmati and a training centre for high-speed train operations at Baroda are also scheduled to be announced at the function, which is to be attended by the chief ministers of Gujarat and Maharashtra and the top brass of Indian railways.
“We are in discussions with Japan to bring forward the launching of the high-speed train from 2023 to August 15, 2022, to coincide with 75 years of independence,” said a senior railway ministry official.
The high-speed training centre at Baroda will be built at an estimated cost of Rs 600 crore. Five hectares of land has been earmarked for the centre.
According to a Japan International Cooperation Agency report, 400 trained personnel are required to run the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train.
As per the current arrangement, 300 railway officers will be trained annually in Japan for the upcoming operations.
Once the centre in Baroda is operational by 2020, about 1200 railway officers will be trained at the institute in batches every year.
The high-speed rail will have 12 stations between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The proposed stations are Bandra Kurla Complex, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.
According to the feasibility report, if the train stops at these 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and 58 minutes at a speed of 320 kmph. However, if the train stops at only four stations, the distance can be covered in two hours and seven minutes.
Of the 508 km route, 468 km of the track will be elevated, 27 km of of the route will have a tunnel and the remaining 13 km will be on the ground. The 27 km of tunnel will pass through seven kilometres under the sea near Thane, making it India’s first underwater rail route.
According to the feasibility report, fares on the high-speed train are expected to be 1.5 times higher than the current first class AC fare on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, meaning a passenger will have to pay between Rs 2700 and Rs 3000.
Besides the feasibility and technical reports that have been prepared, soil and rocks below the 70-metre deep sea are being tested as part of the geo-technical and geo-physical investigation undertaken for the project.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist.