14 September, 2017 marked an important milestone in India’s journey to become an economic powerhouse. This is the day when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of the Mumbai-Ahmadabad High Speed Rail in Ahmedabad.
The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) Project is expected to be operational from 15 August, 2022, which incidentally marks India’s 75th year of Independence.
The ambitious MAHSR project has the potential to transform India’s transportation system, giving a much-needed boost to the archaic Railway infrastructure plagued by frequent accidents lately. Technical know-how for the project will be imparted by Japan, modelling the project on their incredibly successful Shinkansen train network. In Japan, these trains run every three minutes are famous for their punctuality and safety records.
The MAHSR will be connecting 12 stations between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, including Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, and Sabarmati. The bullet train will run at an average speed of 250 km/ hour, reaching a top speed of up to 350 km/hour, which is double the speed of the fastest train in India at present.
The state-of-the-art railway network will pass through a mostly elevated network, expect for a 21 km underground tunnel between Thane and Virar. The Mumbai station will also be underground. The decision on the corridor route for taken after careful considerations on avoiding adverse effects on the local population and natural vegetation along the route.
The project is expected to cost Rs. 1.10 lakh crore for the first rail link. 81 per cent of the project will be funded by Japan through a 50-year loan at a reasonable interest rate of 0.1% and moratorium on repayments up to 15 years.
When operational, the train will have a seating capacity of 750 passengers which is proposed to be expanded to a capacity of 1,250 passengers later. Fares of the bullet train are likely to be in the range of Rs. 3,000-5,000, which are kept competitive to the fares of first-Class AC tickets and Economy class air fare on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.
The MAHSR project is expected to give a huge boost to job opportunities and economic development. Most of the components to be used on the corridor will be manufactured in India, with technical support from Japan. The construction phase itself is likely to create almost 20,000 employment opportunities. After commissioning of the project, another 4,000 jobs are expected to be created for operation and maintenance of the corridor. Apart from this, housing societies, industrial units and other ancillary units will gradually mushroom along the route, giving more livelihood options to the locals.
To sum up, the MAHSR project will give a plethora of benefits to the Indian economy and will speed up the country’s efforts to be a global economic force. The manufacturing and software know-how will also be hugely beneficial for uplifting the condition of Indian Railways. The current Government’s diplomatic efforts seem to have borne fruit with the successful flagging off of the MAHSR project.