Bullet Train project set to begin in 2018

SPV on Bullet Train to finalise Technical Details

The ambitious bullet (high-speed) train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai will kick-start from 2018 after the conclusion of discussions at various levels between railway officials and representatives of Japan. While the initial cost was pegged at Rs 98,000 crores for the project, the government is now keen on an elevated corridor, which will add another Rs 10,000 crore to the overall project cost.

“We have covered a lot of grounds in the last three months, which involved discussions at various levels to get the project started. A joint working group which was constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office will be going to Japan for two days next month to hold further discussions on the loan negotiation,” said a senior official, adding that the government has now decided to go for an elevated corridor.

The Indian delegation will engage its Japanese counterparts in giving a major thrust to the “Make in India” initiative and also ensure larger involvement of Indian companies in the civil work of the project.

“The final location survey is now to be commissioned, which will examine the geological and hydrological aspects of the project. It will also look into the 21-km-long undersea tunnel portion of the project as well. The study will be fully funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency,” the official said.

The high-speed corridor project is being funded with a soft loan by Japan of Rs 80,000 crores, while the railways and the state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra will share the remaining cost of Rs 20,000 crores.

Technical experts of the railways and Japan have also held discussions on the design and certification of the high-speed corridor project. “The Japanese experts have stated that the elevated corridor will be fenced and, unlike Delhi Metro, there could not be movement of vehicles underneath,” said the official.

It has also emerged that not more than 20 per cent of the project cost would be spent on direct procurement from Japan, which will mostly be on train sets.

With the aim of launching the first high speed train in the country between and Ahmedabad, has stepped up ground work for starting construction work of the Rs 98,000 crore project in 2017.

“Our aim is to start the work at the earliest. It would take about seven years after the awarding of the contract for the project to be completed as a lot of new technologies would be used to construct the high-speed corridor,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the bullet train project.

The special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to implement the Mumbai-high speed bullet train project, is meeting tomorrow to finalise the technical details including standardization process for construction of tunneling, pillars, fencing and other requirement of the mega project.

The SPV has been named National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited comprising senior railway officials and the national transporter is in the process of appointing a CEO for the job.

Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25 per cent each, while the Railways will have 50 per cent in the SPV.

The bullet train is expected to cover 508 km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph.

At present, Duronto Express takes about seven hours to cover the distance between the two financial centres.

Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties.

It is a soft loan for 50 years at 0.1 per cent annual interest with 15 years’ moratorium, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

For timely completion of the project, a joint committee has been formed under the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog with the secretaries of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Departments of Economic Affairs and Foreign Ministry as its members along with the Railway Board Chairman.

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