Lucknow: With rising concerns over safety of trains in backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe today laid the foundation stone of the ambitious bullet train project at the Athletic Stadium in Ahmedabad.
The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) will be undertaking the execution of the 508 km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project. The overall estimated cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad is Rs 1.1 lakh crore. The bullet train project is expected to not only give a fresh outlook to the railways but also give impetus to the regional economy. But, the ambitious project faces several challenges.
Route design of the bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is major challenge for the railways. The railways does not own the continuous patch of the land on the route. It needs to acquire lands from the owners.
The route design involves identification of favourable gradient, density of population, nature of settlement and environmental assessment. If the route passes through high density settlement areas or urban centres, it would necessitate pulling down of buildings involving possibility of destruction of heritage structures. Land acquisition in urban areas may be followed by litigation which may delay the project.
The decision of having railway stations and halts of trains including superfast trains has been subject to political considerations in the country. Several super-fast trains were slowed down to increase the number of stoppages to accommodate political constituencies. There are a number of examples of this in northern and eastern parts of the country.
The stations and stoppages for the bullet trains have not yet been decided. But, there are talks in the railways ministry suggesting that there may be a maximum of 10 stopping stations for the bullet trains. The 10 stations on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route are, Sabarmati (where foundation stone was laid today), Anand, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Bilimora, Vapi, Boisar, Virar and Thane.
If the bullet train stops at all these 10 stations, it will take almost three hours (2.58 hours) in reaching Mumbai from Ahmedabad. The other proposal is to have just two stoppages between Ahmedabad and Mumbai at Vadodara and Surat. If the bullet train stops at only two stations, it will travel the distance between Ahmedabad and Mumbai in two hours.