You may have to pay only Rs 3,000 for a ride on India’s first bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai in the economy class, and a bit higher for the business class. There are will be a train every 20 minutes and construction of the mammoth project is expected to start by December this year. The service will emulate Japanese Shinkansen in punctuality and safety. These are the some of the details of the high-speed rail corridor as the mammoth project takes shape and hopes to start by August 15, 2022, to coincide with 75 years of Independence.
“As per the willingness-to-pay study and other factors, we expect a fare of Rs 3000 or thereabouts for a trip between Ahmedabad and Mumbai,” Achal Khare, managing director of the National High Speed Rail Corporation said. Shorter distances will have lower fare slabs, like a trip from Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex to Thane may cost around Rs 250, much cheaper than even taxis, he said. What’s more, there will be what Khare said “marketing schemes” to sell tickets in cheaper deals.
This makes it possibly among the cheapest bullet train rides in the world as the fares are calculated as 1.5 times higher than the prevailing AC-First Class fares of Indian Railways on the same route.
The bullet train project has decided to emulate the customer service manual of Japanese Shinkansen, which is famous for its strict punctuality and impeccable safety record. “This is perhaps the biggest challenge, how to imbibe the Japanese culture of operating the service. So we want to emulate them in full. We have sought their customer service manual so that we can follow it here,” Khare said. The Japan railway service has been in news for apologizing to customers last year after a train reached a minute later than scheduled and even issued what is known as a “delay certificate”.
As many as 360 officials from India will be sent to Japan for training, of which 80 will be given on job training there. Around 80 Japanese nationals are already working along with Indian officials. “As far as delays are concerned, it would not be more than 40 seconds,” he said.
The maiden bullet train project expects to spend between Rs 1000-1200 crore per year in operating cost and boast around four per cent rate of return, translating into a tentative operating ratio of 96 per cent, he said. Operating ratio is the money spent to earn every Rs 100, the lower the better. The project has estimated around Rs 10,000 crore for land acquisition. The terminal station complex called Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, a multimodal hum of metro, railways and bullet train, is out. It boasts of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March of 1930 as the theme in its design.