Ahmedabad-Mumbai Shinkansen: Projections and Hurdles

Talks and issues surrounding the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project continue to make headlines, according to Ahmedabad news at Divya Bhaskar. Back in 2005, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said no to the project, given the huge cost it would involve. Projections for the cost were around 1,800 crore per kilometer. However, it seems the government is now more confident in taking on the challenge of building the railway this time around.

Agreements and Arguments

In 2005, talks of India buying a Shinkansen on a soft loan went nowhere. Instead, an agreement on how to overhaul and upgrade the Indian Railways in a way that recognized India’s priorities was developed. Early this year, though, Prime Minister Modi resurrected the old argument. One idea at work is that the PM would like to hasten the slow pace of growth, and one way to do that is to hold hands with Japan on the train project.

Benefits

A side-benefit to the arrangement is the fact that the railway won’t just solve transportation problems; it would also go a long way to lower the number of cars on the road. A report from Greenpeace showed that power plant emissions from Ahmedabad were higher than those recorded by coastal city Chennai. Ahmedabad is home to two coal-based power plants that use up more than 1000 MW electricity. Thus, building a railway to reduce gas emissions on the road could help reduce the air pollution problem.

Data by from the regional office of the GPCB in Ahmedabad–responsible for monitoring air pollution levels under the supervision of the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme or NAMP—confirms that the air pollution is still within limits. However, that’s not going to be the case for long. In a city that’s known for expanding economic growth, the growth in vehicular traffic is one reason why air pollution levels aren’t seeing much improvement. That’s why plans to install and improve public transportation in the area—including the Ahmedabad-Mumbai plan—are set to reduce heavy traffic and industrial emissions caused by many private cars on the road.

Other Project Details

Date of construction for the project is said to begin by the year 2017, while the completion date is set sometime in 2023. The proposed project will shave more than half of the current travel time. A journey through the 505 kilometer stretch from Mumbai to Ahmedabad takes up about eight hours at present, but after the railway is built, commuters can look forward to a travel time of only two hours.

As for the land, the Maharashtra government, along with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development, wish to look into using land in Dadar Bandra or Kurla for the bullet train terminals.

Costs and Speed

Current data suggests that a one-way trip on the train will net you Rs 2800. Also, data shows that the train will operate at a speed of 320 kilometers per hour. Current trains that cover the same stretch between Mumbai and Ahmedabad run at a mere 160 kilometers per hour. Initial estimates also show that the train will be capable of servicing at least 40,000 riders.