Ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, railway minister Piyush Goyal on Monday expressed confidence that the project would be completed one year before the schedule.
Goyal said the officials of Japanese and Indian Railways have set the deadline of 2023 but considering the pace of work, the project is likely to be ready by 15 August 2022.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, commonly referred to as the bullet train project, would be performed on 14 September by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the minister said.
The ceremony will be held at a stadium near Ahmedabad's Sabarmati railway station. At the same time, the foundation stone will be laid for a high-speed railway training centre at Vadodara, where 4,000 staff will initially be trained for the project.
"The country's rail network will be transformed and revolutionised after the advent of the bullet train. The railway ministry has opted for Shinkansen technology as it has been a zero-accident train in Japan and I am sure the track record will remain the same in India," Goyal said. The minister added that bullet trains will also boost employment in India in a big way and that in future India will be able to export bullet trains too.
Goyal said it was the goodwill of the PM that was instrumental in India getting such cheap loan from Japan for the bullet train.
The 508-km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed rail Project (Standard Gauge) is estimated to cost Rs1,10,000 crore on completion. Out of this, Japan is giving a loan of Rs88,000 crore. The interest on this loan is minimal at 0.1 per cent and it is to be repaid in 50 years, with a grace period of 15 years.
Goyal said that the project is expected to provide 12-15 lakh jobs. Around 20,000 in construction, 4,000 direct jobs for running the system and around 20,000 indirect jobs.
"I think for such low expenditure we are not only getting this huge system, but also modern technology which will provide lakhs of jobs in India. With this technology, industry will get a big boost.
"Then eventually, India will make cheaper bullet trains and export it to the world. So going ahead, India will be part of the international standards in transport technology," he added.
While covering the 508-km stretch between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the train will stop at 10 stations - Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand and Sabarmati.
A railway official said the train would take 2 hours and 58 minutes to cover the distance if it took 10 halts, adding that with just two halts - at Surat and Vadodara - the travelling time would come down to two hours and seven minutes.
The bullet train will run at an average speed of 320 km per hour with a maximum speed of 350 km per hour."PM has given directions for a holistic development of the Indian Railways. India's transport sector is all set to change and it is indeed a matter of celebration," Goyal said.
A senior railway board official said that the project has been put in the fast lane by converting it into an elevated corridor. This will save railways the hassles and inordinate delays arising due to land acquisition. Railways would now require 825 hectare land as against 1650 hectare with most part of the corridor going elevated.
Railway ministry officials said the training institute at Vadodara will be functional by the end of 2020.The facilities at this institute will be utilized to train about 4,000 staff in next three years, who will then be utilised for operation and maintenance of the bullet train. In addition, 300 young officials of Indian Railways are being trained in Japan to give them exposure in high Speed Track Technology.
Keeping in view the long-term plan for human resource development, government of Japan has also offered 20 seats per year for a master's course from the universities of Japan for Indian Railway officials.