India will spend ₹70 billion on its first batch of bullet trains


  • The government is readying the purchase of 18 E5 Series bullet trains from Japan for ₹70 billion, an inside source told Economic Times.
  • The bullet-train project is being developed with a soft loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
  • The Indian government plans to launch the country’s first bullet train route between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by 2023.
India’s bullet train project is all set to get underway. The government is readying the purchase of 18 bullet trains from Japan for ₹70 billion, an inside source told ET. A tender for the procurement of bullet trains from Japanese manufacturers is expected to go live soon.

The bullet train model in question will be the Shinkansen E5 Series. First launched in 2011, The 10-compartment train can travel up to speeds of 320 km/hr and has three seating classes.

Interestingly, the transaction includes the transfer of all technologies required for the assembling and domestic production of such trains. Japanese train manufacturers Kawasaki and Hitachi are both expected to set up production facilities in the country at some point. If this does come to fruition, this could provide a major boost to the Make in India programme.

The bullet-train project is being developed with a soft loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The total credit facility is around ₹880 billion and is payable over 50 years at a nominal rate of 0.1%.

Japan and India have a strong history when it comes to partnering on rail networks. JICA also extended a loan and technical assistance to the state government of Delhi for the development of the city’s metro network.

A launch by 2023

The Indian government plans to launch the country’s first bullet train route between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by 2023. The train corridor is 508-kms long and is currently being built in tandem with Japanese experts. There will be 12 stations on the route. The starting fares for the bullet train journey are expected to be ₹3000. Prior to that, a shorter route between the Gujarati cities of Surat and Billimora is expected to become operational in 2022.

The project will only meet its deadline if the Indian Railways is able to acquire land for the project by the end of the year. There has been resistance from landowners in Gujarat and Maharashtra to the project. Their demands include government jobs and higher compensation. However, despite this, officials from the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) are confident of meeting the December 2018 deadline for land acquisition.

Meanwhile, the High-Speed Training Institute, which is a key part of the project, is being built in Vadodara. Set up at an initial cost of ₹6 billion, the institute will be expected to train the 3,500 personnel required to operate bullet trains in the initial phase of development.
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