Does India actually need a bullet train?
India is a rapidly developing economy with numerous developmental needs. A major component of India's developmental plan is the upgradation of current rail networks as well as the development of the new high-speed rail corridors popularly known as bullet trains. The Mumbai - Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project, is a visionary project by the NDA Government which will herald a new era of safety, speed, and service for the people, and help Indian Railways become an international leader in scale, speed, and skill.
New technology has not always been adopted easily and has at most times seen resistance. However, history shows us that new technology and advancements are highly beneficial for the country. For example, we see that naysayers had also criticised the start of the Rajdhani Trains in 1968. Even the chairman of the railway board opposed it; such things keep India backward. But today, they are the trains that everyone wishes to travel in.
Another example of when people thought India was not ready for new technology was when the mobile phone was introduced into the market. At the time it was considered to be elitist and expensive with a phone call costing Rs. 16 per min. But today India has the 2nd largest market for mobile phones in the world with almost every Indian owning a mobile.
Similarly, the Bullet Train project will also help Indian Railways revolutionise every passenger's journey.
Here's how this project will help the nation and Railways grow in many ways:
A Low-Cost Project
The bullet train project not only adds to the rail networks in terms of transport capabilities but also adds to the growing capabilities of the country. Here's how: The project is funded by a loan on terms which tantamount to a grant.
- The Ministry of Railways has been given Rs. 88,000 crores as a soft loan from the Japanese government which will help Railways to kick off the process.
- The minuscule interest rate of 0.1% and the repayment time of 50 years is economically advantageous to our economy.
- As the repayment of loan is to begin after 15 years of receiving the loan.
- It is not compromising on funds from the safety since this money for the bullet train is coming from Japan. I have already addressed the steps we are taking to improve safety in an earlier quora post.
Promoting Make In India Vision
As per the agreement, the project has 'Make in India' & 'Transfer of technology' objectives. This is how it will add fuel to the Government's 'Make In India' mission:
The Make in India objective will ensure that most of the amount invested in this project would be spent and utilized within India.
Working With A Cutting Edge Technology
Active interactions are already taking place between the industries of India and Japan. The country is getting a cutting-edge technology for the high-speed train project. Here's how the 50 years old Shinkansen Technology in Japan will uplift the project:
- The train delay record of Shinkansen is less than a minute with zero fatality.
- The project is set to provide reliable and comfortable service with high standards of safety.
- Technology regarding disaster predictions and preventions will also be acquired.
- New technologies in ballast-less tracks, undersea tunnels etc. will be developed, and we will work towards proliferating these across Railways.
- Therefore, with the presence and availability of this technology, India will leapfrog to the cutting edge of latest train developments with passengers able to reach their destination in 2 hours as against the current 7-8 hours by train.
Helping India's Economic Growth
- The Bullet Train project will also help the nation boost its economic growth by:
- Manufacturing in India, will give a boost to job creation and export to the world.
- Total 12 stations, 4 stations in Maharashtra & 8 in Gujarat, will emerge as economic powerhouses powered by easy travel.
- Long run costs are also expected to fall through the advantages gained by economies of scale further developing our network.
Creating More Jobs
Hon'ble PM Narendra Modi rightly stated that the prestigious bullet train will be a game-changer for the nation, besides being 'a symbol of New India' that his government seeks to build by 2022. Here's how this project will be a major driver in job creations:
- It will create employment opportunities both in the Short Run and Medium Run and generate employment for about 20,000 workers during the construction phase.
- High-Speed Rail Training Institute being developed at Vadodara would train 4000 workers resulting in standards that are on par with Japan.
- 300 young officials of Indian Railways are being trained in Japan to give them exposure in High-Speed Track Technology.
- It will create a highly skilled and capable workforce in the long run.
- The development of the New Shinkansen Technology by Japan will ensure more growth opportunities.
Some other salient features of this project are as follows:
The art of cleaning trains in approx. 7 minutes will also help in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
C02 per km travelled by train is ~ ¼ the of an airplane and below ⅓ rd of a car will ensure environment efficiency
The bullet train project will not only add to the rail networks in terms of transport capabilities but will also add to the growing capabilities of the country.