For years, India has been trying to find an innovative fix to its railway problem. The country sees thousands dying each year due to overcrowding, the outdatedness of the system and how it fails to absorb the country’s ever-growing number of passengers. Thanks to Japan’s shinkansen technology (and its money), a bullet train linking Ahmadabad with Mumbai is underway, and is scheduled to kickoff by August 2022. “This technology will revolutionize and transform the transport sector,” says Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.
The bullet train project will cost a total of $17 billion, which has some critics saying that the funds would be better spent on modernizing India’s state-controlled rail system, which is the world’s fourth largest.
With 81 percent of the $17-billion project funded by Japan through a 50-year loan at a 0.1 percent annual interest, the trains are planned to be between 10 and 16 coaches long. Each train will accommodate between 1,300 and 1,600 passengers. The system will be designed to operate trains at a maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour (220 miles per hour). Currently, a train journey from Mumbai to Ahmedabad takes seven hours. When traveling at 350 kilometers per hour (220 miles per hour), a bullet train will be able to travel end-to-end on the 508 kilometer (316 mile) line in two hours and 8 minutes.
India’s railways carry an average of 22 million passengers everyday, paying ₹2,000 ($31.2) for a First-Class AC ticket on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Duronto Express. Fares for the bullet train are proposed to be 1.5 times that amount, which would make the cost of a high-speed rail ticket ₹3,000 ($46.7).
Two years ago, China won a contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed link between Delhi and Mumbai as part of a network of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) of track that India is looking to set up, but the plan never materialized. China has bid on other projects around the world, including in Russia, where they bid on a project connecting Moscow to the Volga city of Kazan. Three years ago, Mexico cancelled a contract to build what would have been Latin America’s first high-speed rail line by a Chinese-led consortium due to ambiguities about the legality of the bidding process.
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