India’s proposed bullet train--slated to run on a 508-km track between Ahmedabad and Mumbai--comes with a price tag of Rs 1.1 lakh crore ($17 billion), 70% more than the budget (Rs 64,900 crore or $10 billion) to build national highways in 2017-18 or about 30% the defence budget (Rs 3.6 lakh crore or $53.5 billion) for the same year.
The target date for the first bullet train is August 15, 2022, marking the 75th year of India’s independence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone in Ahmedabad on September 14, 2017.
Cost: $17 billion (Rs 1,10,000 crore). The Japanese government is providing a soft loan of $13.7 billion (Rs 88,000 crore) at 0.1% interest. The loan can be repaid over 50 years with repayment beginning 15 years after disbursement, the Financial Express reported on September 14, 2017.
Comparison: Train cost equivalent of 70% of the highway budget for 2017-18, Rs 64,900 crore (around $10 billion); about 30% the defence budget, Rs 3.6 lakh crore ($53.5 billion), for the same year.
China: The world’s fastest bullet train between Beijing and Shanghai runs at 350 kmph covering 1,250 km in 4 hours and 30 minutes, Press Trust of India reported on June 26, 2017. Around 50,500 passengers use China’s busiest route, between Beijing and Shanghai, every day. China has the world’s longest high-speed railway (60% of the world’s high-speed railway lines) network, extending across 22,000 km.
Seating: 10 coaches--executive and economy class seats--to seat 750 passengers. The Indian Railways proposes to add six more coaches to take the seating capacity to 1,250 passengers. The bullet trains are expected to do 70 trips between Ahmedabad and Mumbai every day.
Journey: The bullet train will cover 508 km and there will be 12 stations: Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. The travel time will be 2 hours and 58 minutes. The Railways is planning two trips between Mumbai and Ahmedabad with stops only at Surat and Vadodara, which will reduce travel time to 2 hours and 7 minutes. There will be a 21-km-long tunnel, 7 km under the sea.
Speed: 320 kmph, with a maximum speed of 350 kmph.
Employment: The project is likely to generate 20,000 jobs during construction, the Times of India reported on September 12, 2017. As many as 4,000 technicians will be trained at the High Speed Rail Training Institute, Vadodara, Gujarat.
(Vashisth & Dantewadia are data journalists with IndiaSpend.)