Last year, India was in talks with Japan, who was willing to finance the country’s first ever bullet train for a mighty sum of $15 billion, at an extremely low interest rate. Done in an attempt to thwart China’s bids on other projects in India, the bullet train track would clock an estimated 508km, connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad and slashing the time of the journey from seven to two hours. Most of the track would remain on land, except for a few kms, that would be submerged underwater.
The bullet train will have stoppages at Surat railway station and Vadodara railway station in Gujarat. It will begin from Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai and pass through Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Billimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara and Anand before terminating its journey at Sabarmati station in Ahmedabad.
The Shinkansen bullet trains in Japan, of which one route also includes an underwater tunnel, is what initially led to the inspiration behind this project. The feasibility of the structure had to be assessed, along with technical and financial viability, which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) helped conduct. After all of the above was deemed viable, India has taken the first step towards the country’s first ever bullet train, making way for construction by next year, possibly. The Economic Times reported that India has now started drilling to identify soil conditions along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, to complete their geotechnical and geophysical investigation, to determine soil bearings.
Even if the Indian Government faces major setbacks, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has assured India that the money will flow, with an interest rate of 0.1% for over 50 years. The project has received much praise for its potential. The Indian Government will begin with construction in 2018, and complete the same by 2023.
On the other hand, several questions have been raised as to why the money cannot be used to aid the current Indian Railway system, whose safety standards have fallen under the radar several times. Although, the Government has taken some steps to rectify the same, the country can only wait and hope for the best.
The Shinkansen bullet trains are among the fastest in Japan. The high-speed network is operated by five companies and has been running since 1964. The route from the Japanese capital of Tokyo to Hakodate also includes an underwater Seikan Tunnel, which inspires the proposed undersea corridor near Thane.
The survey for the train route is being undertaken by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is also funding most of the project through a loan. Building of the corridor is expected to start in 2018 and completed by 2023.