The NDA government is aiming to advance the date of rolling out the first bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai by about a year to August 2022. “The official deadline set in consultation with the Japanese side is 2023 but we would like to complete it by 2022. The Prime Minister believes the country’s engineers and workmen have it in them to complete the project a year in advance,” newly appointed Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said here Monday.
Senior officials present said the effort would be to complete the project by August 15, 2022.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with visiting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone of the project at a function in Ahmedabad on Thursday. The year 2022 coincides with 75 years of India’s Independence and Modi is likely to mention that in his speech on Thursday while declaring the intent of advancing the completion date.
“The way the Modi government implements projects, like LED conversion, laying of optical fibre cables, we are confident that it can be done,” Goyal said.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is being financed through a “soft loan” from Japan International Cooperation Agency with around 80 per cent of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore total cost. The 50-year-period loan is being given to India at 0.1 per cent. Goyal said such an attractive loan was perhaps one of the cheapest in the world for infrastructure financing.
“The PM’s goodwill and image are instrumental in India getting such a cheap loan from Japan,” he said. “At the same time, we are examining different ways to increase the average speed of existing services, by better locomotives, better rolling stock and track renewal.”
Goyal said India is saddled with railway technology that became obsolete in developed countries years ago. “The bullet train will bring in the latest global railway technology in India and place India on a par with developed countries,” he said.
Drawing a parallel with Maruti cars, Goyal said: “The bullet train project will have the impact on rail technology as Maruti had on the country’s automobile sector 30 years ago,” he said.
Speaking of possible fare of the bullet train, Goyal said it would be competitive and “affordable” but he maintained that it has not been decided yet.
Goyal also maintained that apart from technological leapfrogging, the project, through its Make in India component, will equip India with the ability to manufacture bullet trains with the latest technologies and eventually enable the country to export bullet train-related products as well.