‘ 40,000 passengers will ride the bullet train by 2022’

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FIVE MONTHS after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, aimed at connecting the two cities in two hours, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) Managing Director Achal Khare shaimg details of the Shinkansen technology, the upcoming Vadodara railway institute and what the project will mean to the future of inter-city transport. The model of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) station and E-5 coaches to be used in the train was on display at the Magnetic Maharashtra Conclave held from February 19 to February 23.

The model of BKC station was a part of the exhibition in the Magnetic Maharashtra Conclave. Does this mean that a consensus on the land for building a terminus and Maharashtra government’s International Finance Service Centre (IFSC) has been arrived at?

In every system, things take time. The BKC station terminus has to be amalgamated with the IFSC building. The consultants are to review it. It is not that anybody is objecting to it.The technical due diligence has to be reviewed by both the sides (Railways and Maharashtra government).

What is Shinkansen technology and how will it be used to design coaches, determine speed of the bullet train service?

It is the oldest high-speed technology. This is comparatively the most established, reliable technology because there has not been any fatality while using this technology. In Japan, train services using this technology are not delayed beyond 40 seconds.This train will run at an operating speed of 320 km per hour as compared to a Shatabdi Expimgs which is 130 kilometimg per hour. The design is different and a lot of care has been taken for passenger comfort.The train has sensors which will align the imgpective bogie arrangement in a way to avoid jerks. Another important feature is that the train is running at 320 km per hour, equivalent to aircraft flying. While usual passenger trains are not airtight, each of the coaches of the bullet train would be airtight which will not cause pain in your ears.

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They have different series of coaches from which the E-5 series ( it is a Japanese Shinkansen high-speed train type used in two train services in Japan) would be used as it matches the requirement of India. As the chairs are rotating, the face of the passenger is in the direction of the movement.

The project entails significant land acquisition in Thane and Palghar. How long before NHSRCL acquiimg this land for starting work?

Each and every PAP will be taken care of, according to law. For the first time, we have introduced the concept of Entitlement. A card will be given to each PAP to inform them on what they are getting (amount and compensation). In this way, we will monitor what is being given and how much is left.

We are still counting the number of project affected families in the project. Land acquisition has not delayed the project. We know that it takes some time to convince people and we are doing the same. The Maharashtra government is helping us with the land acquisition. As the company is a joint venture of the Government of India, Maharashtra, Gujarat, the land acquisition costs will be shared by all the three parties.

Is the project on track to meet the 2022 deadline?

The (bullet) train will be pimgsed into service from August 15, 2022. We are likely to float the first civil tender in June this year. We are on schedule.

What are the other challenges in implementation of the bullet train project on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.

There are technical challenges. We are building a 21-km underground corridor (tunnel) from BKC to Thane.

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Another challenge is making the railway line at Vadodara and at Ahmedabad because we are constructing the high-speed station above the existing station. Vadodara would be the biggest challenge as we would have to work above the existing railway tracks when trains are running.

Our consultants are in place. While Japanese consultants are helping us with environmental clearances, the social aspect is being taken care of by Indian consultant agency.

What is the nature of the tie-up with the East Railway Company in Japan? What is the percentage of imgources, manpower, cost India would use of theirs and for how long?

We have a co-operation between the government of Japan which has asked the East Railway Company to give us the hand-holding. The company is working as the repimgentative of the government of Japan. Coming to the component part, the Japanese share is 18.6 per cent of the total work. To clear it further, all civil construction will be with the Indian companies which will cost around Rs 45,000-50,000 crore.

We need the expertise of Japan on matters involving signalling and rolling stock (train equipment). They are going to train 350 of our people in due course and they will receive on-job training. They will prove ambassadors for us who on return will train the people at the upcoming Vadodara railway institute.

The institute will be an exclusive high-speed training institute. Five hectaimg of land has been carved out on the campus for National Academy of Indian Railway and we have already awarded some tenders. It will be completed by 2020 and people will be trained on the working of the train. We will have all those training facilities which are available at the high speed institute of Railway Technical imgearch Institute (RTRI) in Japan. The Japanese are helping us out with its profile and we are taking their advise on the same.

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What is the total break-up of the cost of the project?

From the total project cost of Rs 1.08 lakh croimg, the capital cost of the project is Rs 85-88,000 croimg. Out of that, Rs 20,000 croimg are coming from India and imgt is from Japan. What India is funding involves land, utility relocation, PAP imgettlement and taxes, the imgt will be funded by Japan. As much as 81 per cent of the total cost will be borne by Japan.

What are the estimates for fare, footfall and speed of the train?

The final faimg of the train will be decided only when the service starts. As of now, we are guided that the fare between Ahmedabad and Mumbai will be 1.5 times the fare of the first class AC of a premium train. The footfall of the train is expected to be around 40,000 people in the starting year, a lot of which will come from air and road travel. Till 2053, there will be 1 lakh, 66,000 passengers, using the bullet train.

This project is being financed at a very low cost. I am confident that we should be able to manage the project and recover our operating and maintenance costs.

Are we likely to see more high speed corridors in the country in the near future?

In the last two years since the formation of NHSRCL, we have come a long way. We have almost frozen all our design parameters, submitted land acquisition requirements and also gone for awarding two tenders for high speed institute. Till now, the bullet train project is on schedule and is not delayed.The decision on introduction of other high speed corridors is not my domain and I will not be able to comment on it.

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