Mumbai Ahmedabad Bullet train project

01 Sep 2022 Long Read

The desire for world-class transportation has given birth to India's first ever high-speed rail line, popularly known as the ‘Bullet train’, with the rapid expansion of transit systems, including railways. With its power to significantly impact societal development and the expansion of national economies, the HSR network also contributes significantly to the creation of a sustainable transportation system. The bullet train is critical to technological advancement and enhancement, particularly in terms of sustainable innovation which entails not only reducing environmental burdens but also producing significant environmental benefits. The opening of HSR is aimed at resource conservation, energy efficiency, pollution reduction, while positively contributing to the relationship between financial inclusion and environmental deterioration.

In light of this, modern India now aspires to join the exclusive club of nations having HSR networks. The ambitious $19 billion bullet train project that will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad is taking shape as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, lay the foundation.

With the country's first high-speed rail network, India will not only establish a new identity, but will also help the country move closer to becoming the third largest economy in 25 years, as this will undoubtedly boost business. The intercity mass transit system will help in decongestion as the percentage of migration is likely to reduce. In a world striving for net zero carbon emissions, a high-speed rail network, particularly in developing countries, can be a true boon.

However, India has long awaited this project, as the United Progressive Alliance-led government committed to the bullet train before the National Democratic Alliance government, as evidenced by Railway Budget speeches in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's 'Vision 2020' document, which she presented to Parliament, mentions HSR as well. The High Speed Rail Corporation was established in 2012. During former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan in May 2013, it was agreed that the two countries would co-fund a feasibility study for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor.

In response to the need for alternative modes of transportation, Indian Railways have recently been working to bring innovative forms of transportation while also upgrading their currently operational lines.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) project is a 508.17 km high speed rail line under development that would connect Mumbai, Maharashtra, with Ahmedabad, Gujarat, via 12 stops at a cost of US$15 billion. The National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. (NHSRCL) is carrying out the project with a 50-year $12 billion US loan from Japan at a 0.1 percent interest rate, with repayments set to begin 15 years after the line is operational.

Except in Mumbai, where the route will be built underground using three giant tunnel boring machines, trains on the line will travel at 320 kmph on an elevated bridge 10-15m above the ground. The line will travel for around 2 kilometres under the sea at Thane Creek, between Mumbai and Thane stations.

The line’s rolling stock will be comprised of Shinkansen E5 trains, which are capable of running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph (220 mph) with operational speeds of 320 kmph (200 mph). The project’s foundation stone was laid by the prime ministers of India and Japan on September 14, 2017, after which construction work commenced for a 4000-employee High-Speed Rail Training Institute (HSRTI) in Vadodara. The deadline set by the Indian government but which will not be met due to land acquisition issues (825 hectares required), primarily in the state of Maharashtra. So far, 324.67 km are under construction, with 183.501 km already approved. The rail line will have a 468km elevated section and 27km of underground passage (2 km under sea at Thane Creek).

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project costs about $27.44 million per km, compared to China's $17–21 million per km. At this rate, the first phase of the project, a 61-kilometer section between Surat and Bilimora in Gujarat, will likely be operational only in 2026, with the remainder of the project in Gujarat scheduled to be completed by 2028. The new Maharashtra government has issued all licenses for this project, and most land acquisition concerns are expected to be resolved soon. In Maharashtra, 431 hectares are required for the project, but only 72% have been obtained and only 39% are in physical possession.

The local architecture and culture of the city will be taken into consideration when designing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train station façade. The new design envelops the unique functional requirements of each station in an architectural skin that is site-specific in terms of size, massing, volume, and material.

The design of the station façade facilitates ample natural light penetrating the passenger areas with external sky views wherever possible. For example, the importance and significance of speed will be showcased at Vapi station, and the upcoming Bharuch station will be designed around cotton weaving, honouring the 150-year old art and its artists. Similarly, Vadodara city is named after the "Vad Tree". The station façade design of the Vadodara HSR station is inspired by the profile and foliage of a "Banyan Tree" The Ahmedabad station façade is inspired by Syed Siddique Jali, and the Sabarmati station façade design in Sabarmati is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's charkha.

The white needles in the façade are inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's Charkha of Sabarmati Ashram, and the silhouette of spokes will not only give the appearance of the chakra during the day but also at night. The theme of the High-Speed rail station at Surat, which is known for its diamond industry, will be based on "Diamonds" and the theme of Bilimora, famous for mango orchards, will be designed accordingly.

All eight of the project's stations in Gujarat are currently under construction. The first station, Surat, is anticipated to be finished by 2024. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, which was approved in December 2015, has received all the necessary approvals from the Maharashtra government, which is led by CM Eknath Shinde. According to a new report, the estimated cost of the nation's first "high-speed rail" or "bullet train," which will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad, is expected to exceed Rs 1.6 lakh crore, GST excluded. In the 2015 feasibility study, the estimated cost was Rs 1.08 lakh crore.

In the current state of the environment, any action that reduces pollution is appreciated. Within the next 25 years, India wants to overtake China as the third-largest economy. It has already demonstrated its prowess in the sphere of space, and the moment has come to raise its international profile by becoming one of the select countries with a high-speed rail network. Everything will have a variety of benefits and drawbacks. It is up to one's knowledge to balance them equally and make a decision.

Technology advancement has a price, but the safety of our population shouldn't be one of them.

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