I nterest in a possible Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor reached a fever pitch on Monday with a nine-member Chinese delegation led by Lu Dong Fu, vice-minister, Ministry of Transport in China, visiting the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai. The delegation is in India to pursue high speed train projects.
The arrival of the Chinese delegation led by a top authority is an indication of China’s keeness to take up a proposed rail link project in India.
Mumbai-Ahmedabad is one of the three rail links identified by the Indian Railways for running bullet trains, the other two being Delhi-Agra and Delhi-Chandigarh. A technical and financial feasibility study for the Rs 60,000-crore rail link by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is already under way and a final report is expected mid-next year.
During the two-hour visit, the Chinese officials interacted with General Manager of Central Railway and also took a guided tour of the suburban railway booking counters, suburban railway platforms and train management system.
Speaking to Newsline, a member of the delegation who did not wish to be named said, “We are here as a part of our President’s visit to India. Several visits to different sectors including the railways have been planned as a part of the visit to the country. We are here to plan for a redevelopment of railway stations.”
However, despite the fact that the visit was to Central Railway and not to Western Railway, which connects Mumbai and Ahmedabad, senior railway officials said the Chinese delegation showed interest in developing high-speed rail links in the country. There is keen interest especially in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor where trains at a speed of 350 kmph are currently in the realm of discussions.
“We told them we want an underground alignment for the rail link in the city area due to space constraints. They told us they had similar models in China and said that developing underground entry and exit in city area was possible for a bullet train,” said S K Sood, General Manager, CR.
As per plans, the Chinese delegation informed CR officials, a length of 6 to 7 km will be required to provide the suitable gradient needed for a bullet train to go from surface to underground. The Chinese authorities also said they had similar rail links in China where high-speed travel is required to connect only certain locations that draw the required passengers.
To offer high-speed travel, the Indian Railways is looking at only a few stations between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Chinese officials also told authorities here about their routine training programmes for railway officers and supervisors.
“There is a Rail University in China where officers are sent for knowledge enhancement. We are looking at that model in India and if it works for us, we will be sending our officers to institutions like Indian Institute of Technology,” said Sood.