New Delhi: India's maiden bullet train corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will cost nearly Rs one lakh crore and the first train can run in 2024 if work begins in 2017, according to a final feasibility report on the project prepared by the Japanese governmental agency.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA) in its report submitted to the Railway Ministy today envisages a reduction in the travel time on the 505-km long corridor between the two western cities to two hours from the existing over seven hours.
The report estimates that the project where the bullet train will run at a speed of over 300 km per hour will cost Rs 98,805 crore. It also suggested that the train fare could be higher than that charged for First AC of Rajdhani Express, a senior rail ministry official involved with the project said.
Japanese Ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi led the official JICA delegation to submit the report to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on the bullet corridor that is considered Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project. Railways will examine the report and decide the future course of action, the official said.
As a follow-up action, a Cabinet note seeking approval for the project with an outline of the project feasibility and timelines is likely to be prepared next month. If work begins in 2017, the line can be completed in 2023 and made operational in 2024, it is projected.
After the study of the financial feasibility of the line, the final report suggests the fare of the bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad may be somewhere around one and half times more than the fare of the first AC of Rajdhani Express and it would be around Rs 2,800. It is estimated that by 2023 around 40,000 passengers are expected to avail this service everyday and accordingly it would be a financially viable service.
Besides JICA, SNFC of France has already carried out a feasibility study of the route and has submitted the business model to the ministry.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor is expected to enable trains to run at a top speed of 350 kmph. From the initial estimated cost of Rs 65,000 crore, it has gone up after taking into account various factors like price escalation and interest.
According to the official, Japanese government has offered to fund the project at a low interest rate. However, the loan offer comes with the rider that 30 per cent of the rolling stock for the project would be sourced from Japanese firms.
The Japanese agency has suggested that the line be constructed on the internationally accepted “standard gauge”, as against certain opinion in the Railways that the “broad gauge” option be considered since India's main line train operation is based on this gauge only.
JICA's final report points out that high-speed running of over 300 kmph are done on the standard gauge across the world.
In his budget speech in March, Prabhu had said that “quick and appropriate action” on executing the high-speed project would be initiated after the submission of the JICA's final report.