Misc

Bullet Trains

Bullet Trains
Background
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in September 2017, laid the foundation stone of the bullet train project that would connect Mumbai with Ahmadabad. The Mumbai–Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor is a high-speed rail line that is currently under construction and it is set to be India’s first high-speed rail line. The roots of the project can be traced back to the 2009-10 Rail Budget. India and Japan had signed MoUs in 2013 and 2015 regarding the project. On the recommendation of NITI Aayog, the Ministry of Railways announced that Shinkansen technology would be used for the line and technology transfer would support the Make in India program. Staff training would be provided by Japan.

In 2016, the Ministry of Railways fast-tracked the project and set up a Special Purpose Vehicle- the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited to construct and operate the corridor.

What are Bullet Trains?
The Shinkansen high-speed trains of Japan are called bullet trains for their appearance and speed. These trains move at speeds above 250 kmph.

The bullet train in India will cover a route of 508 kilometers and run through 12 stations, which are Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad, and Sabarmati. The train will run at a speed of 320 kmph and is expected to be completed by 2022. There would be business and standard sections with 2x2 and 2x3 seating. There would be 10 to 16 coaches in each train and they would have a capacity of 1250 passengers. In 2017 at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the Gujarat Government and the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRC) signed an MoU worth Rs. 67,000 crores for component manufacturing for the corridor. The Gujarat Government will bear 25% of the total project cost in addition to providing land for the project.

What are the electricity requirements for the project?
The NHSRC has estimated that the corridor would consume 1,100 million units of electricity per year once operations commence. Electricity consumption will rise in 2033 when additional services are planned to be introduced. 29 substations will supply electricity to the corridor. The NHSRC finalized the locations for the substations by January 2018 and power utility companies in Gujarat and Maharashtra conducted surveys in April 2018. Solar panels installed at the Sabarmati and Thane stations will generate solar power.

Finance and Technology required for the project
Technology is provided by Japan who is also financing 81% of the project costs at an interest of 0.01% for 50 years. The remaining costs will be borne by the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat. 20% of the components used in the corridor will be supplied by Japan but would be manufactured in India.

What are the arguments for the project?
•Convenience: Bullet trains will serve as an alternative mode of transport, therefore lessen the burden on roads. Also, the speed of bullet trains will save time and boost businesses in large cities. The interconnectedness between the towns and cities would reduce the hassle of commuting.

•Safety: Safety has been one of the most important concerns of Indian Railways. The record of bullet trains in the field of safety has been impeccable. The Shinkansen trains of Japan started operations in 1964 and there have been no fatalities to date.

•Environment-friendly: Bullet trains are proven to be much more environmentally friendly than aeroplanes and trains.

•Economic growth: The project will bring in many employment opportunities and thus help with the growing problem of unemployment in India.

What are the arguments against the project?
•Expenses: The Mumbai- Ahmedabad high-speed rail costs around one lakh crore rupees. If we also take into account the cost overruns due to delays and future fluctuations of inflation, it may further get increased, which is a huge strain on the Indian economy.

•Very high fares: The estimated fares for passengers may range between Rs. 4000 to Rs 5000 to make the running of bullet trains economically viable. Such high fares cannot be a viable option for the middle class, who are the main people to use the railways.

•The problem of land acquisition: It has been argued that the amount of land required to make the project operational will led to large scale displacement.

•It has been argued that the government needs to strengthen the present infrastructure of the railways before undertaking additional projects.




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