Though, the high-speed train proposition has been initiated by Mr. Lalu Prasad in 2008, the then Railway minister, it seems that current government looks anxious in completing the project. Lalu has proposed Mumbai Ahmedabad as one of the high-speed rail corridor with 160-200KMPH. But Modi’s govt is making it a full speed corridor with the speed of 300KMPH in line with Japan’s bullet trains.
(image taken from hdnux website)
Bullet train is obviously a sign of growth for Railways. Well, with most of benefits like less travelling time and high-end infrastructure and other amenities like Wifi etc, there comes lot of questions and risks involved in building the project.
- Reaching the common man: With the commercials mentioned below, it is evident that the travel in bullet train is not for common man. With the recent hike in railway charges, and reducing passenger subsidies even to the poor, it may not be wise to set up a bullet train where fares have to be subsidised.
- Feasibility of the project commercials: Critics question the creation of 60,000 crore project when Railways are short of money. The Rs.60,000 crore project has to earn a minimum surplus of 6,000 Crore, annually to service debts and the capital. To generate profit of 6,000 Crore annually, with an estimate of 10 lakh passengers (no. as per Railway info) travelling in the corridor, the annual servicing cost of the investment would have to be Rs. 60,000 per journey. Experts feel this math is nearly impossible.
- Land acquisition: A huge amount of land should be acquired and it may take up to 5 years as per experts. The cost of project will be increased for every passing day. The bullet train runs in a populated line where land acquisition rate will be high.
- One more point to note is with respect to bullet trains in China: except the Beijing and Shanghai line, rest all bullet train facilities are operating in losses for years. We should be cautious and learn not to repeat the mistakes they did.
Having said, all these, government would have considered all these challenges and hence let us wish and wait to see how our government will overcome these.