Will Japan’s bullet train run in India? (The mind boggles!)

New Kerala

[India News]: New Delhi, March 2 : Can Japan’s famed bullet trains run in India? Yes, says a railway official, citing a feasibility study.
But officials have their fingers tightly crossed as they assess the feasibility of running trains in this country that zip through 500-odd kilometres in less than two hours.
“The cost for building the Shinkansen (bullet train) system between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is being pegged at Rs.350 billion ($8 billion),” railway ministry financial commissioner Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan told IANS.
The cost for the 500-km line works out to a little over Rs.650 million per kilometre, she said quoting information provided by a Japanese firm that conducted a feasibility study on building the rail line.
“The cost per kilometre is not at all much when compared to the Delhi Metro,” which Viswanathan said cost Rs.2 billion per kilometre for laying the underground line.
While the total expenditure on the 66-km Delhi Metro was Rs.105 billion, the entire 500-odd km high-speed train system between Ahmedabad and Mumbai would cost Rs.350 billion.
Further, the benefits of such a system would far outweigh the cost, officials say.
Bullet trains have been running in Japan for the last 40 years and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 300 km per hour — over twice as fast as India’s fastest Rajdhani train.
If introduced, the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train can reach its destination in less than two hours, the time taken now for commuters to reach the city from suburban areas on electric multiple unit trains.
But the system needs a dedicated track, covered with fencing all along to prevent accidents.
“In India, it is common for humans and cattle to stray on the railway line, causing accidents. Hence the need for a dedicated track,” said V.D. Sharman, an executive with Sumitomo Corporation, which is a member of the Japanese Overseas Rolling Stock Association (JORSA).
“However, everything depends on the decision of the railway board and the Indian government,” he said.
Sharman said a preliminary report of the feasibility study undertaken by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) was likely to be submitted by April, which would be followed by another study.
While the bullet train appears to be ahead in the race for developing a high-speed train system in India, the railway board is also contemplating collaborations with either France or Japan to implement the project, a railway ministry official said.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has given the green signal for running a fast train that can reach speeds of up to 150 km per hour between Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Chennai.
This project too is awaiting clearance from the railway board.
Indo-Asian News Service

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