Ambiguity continues over land for bullet train terminus in Maharashtra

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It was envisioned by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi to take Indian Railways towards most modern technologies like developed countries. It is also expected Japan will increase its investment into Gujarat from present $1 billion to $3 billion. The high-speed train is created to have ten cars with 750 people capacity and is slated to carry around 36000 passengers every day in a total of 70 rides both sides.

The project will be based on Japan's Shinkansen high-speed rail technology and Japan is also providing a soft loan of 880 bln rupees, accounting for 81% of the total estimated project cost of 1.08 trln rupees. Japan has agreed to provide more than 65 per cent of the total cost of over $16 billion to India in the form of easy loans. India was a lone exception among major passenger railway systems not to have a high-speed railway system. The fastest train now operating between Mumbai Central and Ahmedabad Junction is the Duronto Express, which takes approximately 7 hours running non-stop between the two cities at a maximum speed of 120 km/h.

The operating speed of the bullet train will be 320 kilometers per hour and maximum speed will be 350 kilometers per hour. The length of the rail corridor will be around 508 km and it will have 12 stations.

According to sources, meeting between officials of railway and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has been inconclusive so far and a midway is still being worked out. Four sub-groups with representatives from Indian industry, Japanese industry, DIPP, and the National High Speed Rail Corporation have been formed and are looking at systems and sub-systems to push "Make in India".

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Even if you ignore the fact that China first started planning bullet trains in the 1990s and just look at the date when construction first began - December 1, 2003 - of the 2,078-km Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu line, China's per capita income was under $1,300; today, when India starts construction of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai stretch, its per capita income is over $1,800.

While the right of way is under finalisation, land acquisition requirement will be low as most of the project will be elevated, with a 21-km tunnel and 7 km of under-sea tunnel. Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent in tunnel and the rest two per cent will be on the ground.

The opposition has rejected the project, questioning what is Modi government's "real priorities"-bullet trains or ensuing safe drinking water, sanitation and housing for all". And, if the bullet train will stop at all 12 stations, then it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

But imagine the change it will bring - people will be able to live in Ahmedabad or Surat or Vadodra or somewhere along the route and commute to/from Mumbai every day. The facilities at this institute will be utilized to train the staff in next three years, who will then be utilised for operation and maintenance of the high-speed train.

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