Tokyo: Japan has plans to support high-speed rail network, commonly known as bullet train, in five more locations in India even as the first such project in the Mumbai-Ahmadabad sector is likely to be delayed till 2023 compared to the government’s 2022 target.
“There are plans to set up high-speed rail connectivity in five more locations in India. The talks are yet to begin, but the plan is there. It will depend on the roll out of the first project that is going to be established between Mumbai and Ahmedabad,” Torkel Patterson, vice-chairman of International High-Speed Rail Association (IHRA), told ThePrint.
Patterson said there are plans to set up high-speed rail networks in New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru.
JR-East, a private Japanese railway firm, is building the high-speed rail network between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
‘Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project to be delayed’
The 505-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project that will be built at a cost of around $12 billion was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September 2017. The MoU for the project was signed in December 2015.
The bullet train, which runs at the maximum speed of 320 km/hour, is expected to travel the distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in two hours and seven minutes, and en route it will cover 12 stations.
Patterson said the bullet train project would be operational not before 2023 because there are issues related to land acquisition.
“Right now, we are facing issues concerning land acquisition there, and it (the project) is happening very slowly. If the land is not given on time then there is bound to be a delay. It will take at least five years for the project to be completed once the Indian government gets the required quantum of land,” Patterson added.
He also said talks are on over the price of the tickets and other revenue models to support the high-speed rail ecosystem.
‘Bullet train project will transform India’s economy’
According to Patterson, the bullet train project, which will use the Japanese ‘Shinkansen’ technology, will bring about “transformation” in India’s economy as it did for Japan.
“’Shinkansen’ is not only transportation. It is transformation. It will connect cities that are today critical for the growth of any country. The cities are driving force for the growth of global economy today and, hence, it is imperative that cities be integrated,” he said.
Patterson further said that bullet train projects should not be established “anywhere and everywhere” in a country, but only around economic hubs.
He added that one of the main reasons why the Japanese government chose to build the first high-speed rail network in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad region is because Mumbai is the financial hub of India and Ahmedabad is at the heart of the country’s diamond trade.
(The reporter was in Tokyo on the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan)
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