Amdavadi dreams of cruising all the way to Mumbai in less than two hours have hit the fast track with both the French and the Japanese governments fiercely competing for the bullet train project.
The French national railway SNCF is already working with the Indian Railways on the techno-feasibility report for the 630-km project between Ahmedabad and Pune via Mumbai. The report is likely to be submitted to the Railway Board in mid-June.
At the same time in Tokyo, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe issued a joint statement about conducting another bullet train feasibility study on the same stretch. “The two Prime Ministers decided that the two sides will co-finance a joint feasibility study of high speed railway system on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route,” the statement said. Singh even appreciated Japan’s high level of expertise in designing and implementing Shinkansen (bullet train) systems.
The Rs 60,000-crore project will be executed along the existing railway track and will be funded jointly by Gujarat and Maharashtra governments on a public-private partnership model. Currently, trains cover the 490 km between Ahmedabad and Mumbai in about seven hours but the bullet trains are expected to travel at 350 km per hour, and cover the distance one hour and 50 minutes. The railway is targeting high-end users.
The French proposal will have stoppages at Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Mumbai, Lonavala and Pune. It will have 16 cars with a target of 32 round trips. “The fares will be about 70% of air travel cost,” he said. “A lot of air traffic may divert here. Though air travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is less than an hour, security checks take a lot of time,” says a railways official. Railway officials said the work is to start by November on Delhi-Chandigarh and Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune.