The financial bid for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project was opened recently by the National High Speed Rail Corporation. As per the sources, several major industry players have shown interests. Among them, Larsen and Turbo (L&T) has emerged as the lowest bidder with its amount standing at almost Rs 25 crore, beating two other bids led by Tata Projects and Afcons Infrastructure Ltd. L&T’s segment starts at the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and goes up to Vadodara station and includes four stations, at Vapi, Bilimora, Surat and Bharuch in Gujarat. On the other hand, technical bids were opened on September 23, 2020 in which three bidders qualified, including L&T and two consortium of companies.
With its cost estimated to be around Rs 1.08 lakh crore, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor which commenced in December 2018, is being jointly carried out by India and Japan and funded by the Japan International Co-operation Agency. However, amid the coronavirus crisis, the land acquisition for the project has been delayed and the Railways has said that a clear timeline for the completion of the project can be provided only in the next two to six months. The project was scheduled to complete by December 2023 but there have been reports that it may fail to meet the set deadline which may be further delayed till 2028.
On the bright side, as a part of the coordination between Indian Railways Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the latter recently said that the Japanese expertise in indicator-based methods and ultrasonic detection will be shared with India for maintaining track and rail welding.
Even though the timeline of the project has not been fixed, NHSRCL has already fixed the fare for the bullet train at around Rs 3000. The train will make 70 trips, 35 on each side between 6 am to 12 am. Thus, looking at the pricing, the inevitable question arises – does India really need a bullet train? More importantly, will public be able to afford it? With a majority of the country’s population belonging to middle class, the fare for the bullet train seems rather unfeasible. Moreover, at the same rate, one may be able to get flight ticket as well. In addition to this, while the project is being jointly undertaken by Japan and India for now, in the coming time, will India be able to solely handle the operation and maintenance process, considering the possible complications and the cost needed to do the same?
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