HIGH SPEED RAIL PROJECT STARTED IN INDIA

After a long wait, India has started work on its first high speed rail project. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and Japan laid the foundation stone for the High Speed Rail (HSR) project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, a distance of 508 km, out of which 55.6 km of the proposed alignment falls in Maharashtra, 350.5 km in Gujarat and 2 km in UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Ministry of Railways, Government of India has setup High Speed Rail Corporation of India Limited (HSRC) in 2012 for development and implementation of high speed rail projects. The feasibility of the project was done by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and Ministry of Railways in 2013. However, the government created a special purpose vehicle National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) in February 2016 for implementing the project of high speed train corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

The total cost of the project is estimated around US$ 17 billion (INR 1.08 trillion). The project is funded by JICA, committing about 85% of the total cost of the project as loan with an interest rate of 0.1% and a moratorium of 15 years and repayment period of 50 years. The remaining cost will be borne by the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

High Speed Rail would run at an average speed of 320 km per hour and at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour. It will stop at 12 railway stations i.e. Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand/Nadia, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati, on the route but only for 165 seconds each. The train would have two categories of seats--executive and economy. Most of the corridor will be elevated, except for a 21 km underground tunnel between Thane and Virar, of which 7 km will be undersea.

It is planned that a total of 24 high-speed trains will be imported from Japan and then rest of the rakes will be manufactured in India. This will help to develop the manufacturing industry in India. Signaling equipment and power systems for the corridor will be imported from Japan, per the terms of the loan agreement with JICA. The construction of the corridor is expected to be completed by August 2022 and the bullet train is expected to go on its first run on 15 August 2022 on the occasion of India's 75th Independence Day.

In addition to Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor, five more corridors covering sides of diamond quadrilaterals and semi diagonals in the country are being explored and Consultants have been appointed to undertake feasibility studies. These five corridors include Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur and Mumbai-Nagpur. These corridors will cover over 10,000 km.