Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train picks up speed

...But awaits ironing out of details including ensuring a trespass-free corridor since it run 6 kms before it can halt following applying of brakes

A talk at the Make In India week between the Indian Railways' AK Mittal and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis gave a much-needed push to the pending high-speed bullet train project. Fadnavis suggested that the MMRDA and Indian Railways discuss the road ahead for the 4,000 hectare Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) land needed to build the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor.

The chat also culminated in the decision to construct an International Finance Centre, which the state hopes will not only up real-estate prices in the area, but also lend a boost to the economy thanks to increased footfall of commuters.

While the R98,000 crore project to build a 505-km bullet train corridor was passed last year, no further discussions had taken place. Slated to begin in 2017 and be completed in five years, the project is said to be the answer to addressing the growing stress on existing long distance trains, road transport and air travel, according to the Indian Railways.

According to senior railway officials, the existing rail network is congested, and road travel time is only rising. “The travel time by train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai ranges from seven to 12 hours. The bullet train aims to make the distance in two hours.” Presently, train speeds range from 110 kmph to 130 kmph, while the envisioned bullet trains will run at 300 kmph. “The train is so fast, it will travel 6 km before it can come to a halt once the brakes are applied,” added the official, highlighting the need for a trespass free corridor.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study on the Role Of High Speed Rail, by 2030, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will contribute to four billion passenger kilometres, compared to 10 billion passenger kilometers and 2 billion passenger kilometres air travel.

A senior railway official, on condition of anonymity, said that the three-storeyed underground station built in BKC would not hamper the finance center's construction which is envisioned as coming up on the land above it. Less than 20 per cent of the components required for the bullet train will be sourced from Japan, and manufactured in India. Japan will fund around R79,000 crore of the project.

An MMRDA official, on condition of anonymity, said, “We are not against the bullet train but we have not received a plan yet. We will submit our plan for the IFC soon.” Meanwhile, in Nagpur on Thursday, at the first foundation day programme of the Nagpur Metro Rail, Metro man Dr E Sreedharan said he was not in favour of introducing the bullet train just yet. Instead, the man who spent 36 years with the railways rooted for improving existing facilities, comfort of passengers, safety and infrastructure.

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