Trains gliding at a super-fast speed, cutting through the air, vanishing out of sight as soon as they appear. The sleek blue and white train with a kingfisher-like streamlined body, has charmed the imagination of train enthusiasts since the first glimpse of Japanese bullet trains were seen in 1964.
Prime Minister Modi will bring down these trains from our imagination to the Indian tracks now. The year 2023 shall show India, trains running at a bullet fast speed of 320-350 kilometers per hour. These bullet trains are first proposed to run on the Mumbai Ahmedabad route. Six more such corridors have been identified to bring out the tourism and economic potential of the identified areas. As per the draft National Rail Plan, India will see several of these bullets running in-between major cities giving a new lifeline to Indian commerce by the year 2051.
The benefits that the bullet train brings
The environmental benefits of this new rail network cannot be overstated. High-speed rail plays a crucial part in the transition towards sustainable transportation. They offer a viable replacement for short-haul flights and long car journeys. Rail being the greenest mode of transport reduces the carbon footprint to a great extent. It is the only mode of transport that has reduced its emissions while increasing passenger and freight volumes.
Coming to its economic benefits, The industrial push with these fast-moving trains cannot be compared with the speed which flights give. The volume of freight that these trains can carry, cannot be transported through flights. Moreover, utilizing three-times less than motorways, high-speed rail offers a very efficient land utilization.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor plan
The proposed 508 rail-line would cover 21 km of an undersea rail network, one of the first for India. The travel time between these two cities would be reduced from about 8 hours now to just 2 later! At a whopping estimated cost of 1000 billion, the project has too much in its offing. It is expected to spur manufacturing and employment in India, generating both myriad opportunities. Some 400 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs would be created in operations alone other than the 20,000 construction jobs.
With Japanese collaboration, the Shinkansen technology would be brought to India. The Japanese E5 series Shinkansen would be upgraded to make way for the bullet trains in India. 1396 ha of land has to be acquired to lay the new trunk line for these bullet trains for the proposed 508 km.
The accolades achieved by Indian Railways
Transport is a highly competitive business. To attract more passengers to use railways over air or roads, the primary currency is speed. Indian Railways are continuously striving to deliver better speed. The safety and comfort which is accompanied in a rail journey today are also unparalleled. The costs at present might seem huge considering the passenger traffic between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. But, once the bullet train infrastructure penetrates the whole of India, the economic and environmental benefits would be very rewarding. The initial investment might appear painful on the budget, it is even branded as an uncalled-for extravaganza by some, but it is laying strong foundations for a reliable and fast high-speed network.
Other than the planned bullet trains, a lot more has been done in the recent past. New high-speed trains like Vande Bharat, removal of unmanned railway crossings, 100% LED lighting of all railway stations, indigenous production of a record number of Linke Hofmann Busch coaches, electric locomotives with electrified rail lines for these locomotives, and the list goes on. Railways is seeing new vistas of development and new accolades to boast of.