Tag Archives: bullet trains

Bullet trains are set to change train travel in India: Here is how.

What is the India’s Bullet Train project?

The Bullet Train is a High-Speed Rail Network where trains will operate at a top speed of around 320 km per hour. The first section of the network will connect the 508-km route between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The track will move towards Delhi when the extension project kicks in.

When will it start construction?
The project was sanctioned for feasibility studying all the way back in 2009-10. The project is currently undergoing the soil testing stage. Both PMs are expected to lay the foundation stone of the project in September in Ahmedabad. The construction is expected to start by 2018 and the schedule for the launch of the first section’s operations is set for 2023.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad section is said to cost the Railways $15 billion. An 81% Japanese investment by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the form of the long term low-interest loan will drive the construction of the project. The initial detailed project report (DPR) was prepared by the Japanese group of experts that is assisting the Indian Railways in the construction of the project.

What is the plan to avoid delays?
To save time in land acquisitions, legal hurdles and other such delays, a major section of the link is proposed to be of elevated nature. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) released a Performance Audit on Status of Ongoing Projects Union Government, Railways in 2015. It showed that “Delay in the completion of projects resulted in cost overrun of Rs 1.07 lakh crore and throw-forward of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in respect of 442 ongoing projects.”

How will the bullet train save the travel time?
On an average, the journey from Ahmedabad to Mumbai takes around 7 hours in the express trains of the Indian Railways. The new bullet train will cut down the travel time of the journey to around two hours. The corridor will run along the surface, on an elevated track and even a 7-km undersea tunnel between Mumbai and Thane section is part of the proposed plan.

Who will construct the corridor?
The Railways has set aside 450 km of the corridor’s length for Indian contractors while 52 km will be constructed by Japanese companies. Since the technology for the construction of the undersea link is not available with Indian companies, it will also be put open for private international contractors.

What are the features of the Bullet train?
The Japanese E5 Series Shinkansen train will serve as the bullet train in India. The 10 car variant will have a total seating capacity of 731 passengers–698 seats for standard class passengers and another 55 for Business class. The train will have a top speed of 320 km per hour. During its testing stages in Japan, the train reached the speed 400 km/hr. However, the speed was capped to 320 km/hr for passenger and environmental comfort.
The train has an extended long nose stretching up to 15 metres. This prevents damaging tunnel boom when the train exits from a tunnel at high speeds that occur due to the extremely loud noise produced due to uneven air pressure. It’s soft full bogie covering with cars along with the below mounted sound absorbing materials keep the highly noise free.

The full active suspension in the train massively cuts the vibrations while travelling at high speeds and the centrifugal force is nullified with the help of a body tilting system. The two systems are integrated and hence detect and regulate lateral and tilt movement of the train and hence check the shaking of the train on curves too.

In the Japanese variants, the standard interiors came with luxury leather seating and wool carpeting. It has dark wood and metallic elements inside as well. The stock seats come with electronic power recline and the adjustable reading lamps. It also boasts built-in seat reading lamps. A foldable dining table, as well as a cocktail tray, can be pulled out from underneath the armrests. The trains are designed as disabled friendly.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Uncategorized



Six Reasons Why Bullet Trains Are Good For India’s Growth Story

The bullet train project, in conjunction with other similar infrastructure projects in the timeline, has the potential to carry forward India’s aspiration for economic development.

“It’ll cost far less to act now than it would to delay until further damage is done” is how President Ronald Reagan introduced his ambitious Highways and Bridge Repair program to the American audience during a radio address delivered on 27 November 1982. The American economy witnessed spectacular growth for a sustained period in the years following the launch of this program and the highways program is credited as one of the major contributors in that growth story.


As India and Japan signed an MoU for , more popularly referred to as Bullet Train project, during the recent Indian visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, a debate has ensued on the various dimensions of the project. Before venturing to address some of these issues, a bit of history is in order. The High Speed Rail Corporation of India Limited was set up in July 2012 as a subsidiary of the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited with the express purpose of developing and implementing high speed rail projects in India.

Earlier, in February of the same year, an expert Group on Modernization of Indian Railways, had submitted a report, which among other things had recommended construction of a High Speed railway line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and for undertaking feasibility studies on six other different alignments. The Union Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu, while delivering his 2015-16 railway budget in Parliament, announced-…we will continue to pursue with vigour our special projects like High Speed Rail between Mumbai-Ahmadabad. The feasibility study for this is in advanced stage and report is expected by the mid of this year.Quick and appropriate action will be taken once the report is available with us. Regarding the other high speed routes on the diamond quadrilateral, studies are being commissioned….

The feasibility study of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor was submitted in July 2015 and the process culminated with the signing of the MoU between India and Japan on 12 December 2015. With this perspective – that years of detailed thought and planning went into the announcement of the first bullet train project in India – some of the issues raised can be addressed.

First, questions have been raised on the very need for bullet trains. The Indian Railways, with a network of over 65,806 route km of railway lines is the backbone of the nation’s transportation system for passenger and freight traffic. The system is highly stretched on main trunk routes, which carry bulk of the passenger and freight traffic. The capacity utilisation on certain routes is as high as 150 per cent. The overcrowding of the system has led to a slowing down of average speeds for passenger and freight trains and there is a clear shift of traffic from railways, which is a more energy efficient and environmental friendly transport mode compared to road transport.

The increasing congestion on the Railway trunk routes has also resulted in higher turnaround time for movement of goods, affecting manufacturing in the country. In fact, Indian industry has been highlighting logistic constraints, especially in the rail movement, as one of the major reasons contributing to high cost of manufacturing in the country and erosion of competitiveness.

A network of High Speed Rail (HSR) system in the longer run would facilitate travelling with enhanced passenger comfort, safety and environmental benefits. High Speed Rail System would also release capacity of existing rail lines with which the HSR would compete, enabling faster movement of freight and passenger traffic on the existing lines. The HSR system also releases capacity of airports as short haul flights get curtailed. This capacity in turn could be utilised for longer duration flights that improve economics of air transport also.

Second, as per official sources, the average per km cost of construction of the Bullet Train between the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route works out to approximately Rs 140 crore. In contrast, the metro at Vijaywada is costing approximately Rs 288 crore per km . The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), formerly known as Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), funded about 60 per cent of Delhi Metro phase-I in six tranches, starting with the first round in 1997. The loan was sanctioned at an annual interest rate of 1.2 per cent, and a repayment period of 30 years, with a moratorium period of 10 years.

Contrast this with the present deal, where the repayment period is 50 years with an initial moratorium of 15 years and an interest rate of mere 0.1 per cent. The starting annual ridership on this route is expected to be 13 million in 2023, which is projected to go up to 68 million by 2053. So if revenue streams and inflation are factored in, the loan comes at virtually no cost and the project essentially self finances.

Third, the standard Indian debate about prioritizing between spends on big ticket infrastructure projects and social sector has found a false resonance here as well. The Japanese Government, JICA and the Ministry of Railways worked closely over the last two years and prepared a feasibility report. Japan then offered an assistance package with a loan on very concessional terms. This loan is exclusively meant for the high speed railways project, which means this money is not available for other projects including upgradation of the existing railway infrastructure.

So the moral dilemma of opportunity cost is actually a false choice. In addition, what this arrangement does is that it frees up India’s internal resources for deployment into other priority sectors while a big ticket infrastructure projects, with many spin-off benefits, gets built with minimal internal investments.

Fourth, Transfer of Technology (ToT) and ‘Make in India’ will be an essential part of the assistance package. Make in India of HSR systems will include manufacture of rolling stock , equipment and machinery, to be promoted in a phased manner. There will also be ToT of the construction technology. A big manpower development programme on HSR will also be a key element of the cooperation with Japan. A HSR training institute and a training programme of an approximately 4000 officials for HSR operations is also part of the HSR cooperation programme.

The Japanese Government has indicated that for civil construction contracts, the prime contractor can be an Indian company, a Japanese company or a Japanese company led JV with an Indian company. This is a major departure from the prevalent STEP loan conditions of JICA where prime contractors can only be Japanese companies or Japanese led JVs.

Fifth, a European consortium of SYSTRA (France) and Italferr (Italy) assisted by RITES had studied the feasibility of a broad gauge HSR between Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad with speed up to 350 kmph and prepared the cost estimates in the year 2010. The French Public Sector Company SNCF prepared a business development plan for this corridor based on the 2010 study. No financial assistance was offered by SNCF for the project. No other entity has approached the Ministry of Railways with alternative offers either. It is reasonable to presume that while the other players are also capable of executing the project, they are not ready to match the Japanese offer in the realm of financial assistance to the Railways.

Sixth, technology transfer in improving safety of Indian railways is one of the biggest area of co-operation. Japanese Shinkansen technology is acknowledged as one of the most efficient and safe high speed rail technologies with no casualties in 50 years of its operation. Acceptance of Japanese offer, therefore, does not compromise the quality of the project in any manner. On time performance of Japanese Railways is the best in the world. The average delay time per trip is within one minute. The Japanese system is disaster resistant with earthquake detection system kicking-in, in the event of an earthquake, which halts the train immediately.


In addition, Information sharing for environment friendly sanitation technology in trains & know how on mitigation of natural disasters are also important areas of co-operation. Besides the HSR Memorandum of cooperation, two more MoUs were signed with Japan during the visit of Prime Minister Abe. These MoUs were decided during the visit of the Railway Minister to Japan in September 2015. One MoU is on comprehensive technology cooperation in railways with Japan and the other is between Railway Research institutions of the two countries viz RDSO of India and RTRI of Japan.

While these are the tangible benefits of the project, what about the intangible benefits? I am reminded of an experience that I had in my professional career while working in an heavy earth moving equipment manufacturing company. This was in Odisha in the year 2006. The Indian economy was then on the upswing and the investments in highways and other infrastructure projects had given immense entrepreneurial and other economic opportunities to people who had hitherto not been integrated in the economic mainstream.

One such customer of the company I worked with, and who had been reasonably successful after deploying equipments he had purchased, invited us for an event he was organising in his village. In this village, in a remote corner in Odisha, this person was organizing a cricket tournament, after which he would select the best performers and then sponsor them for operator training for earth moving equipments. Struck by his unique initiative, I asked him why did he not directly sponsor the youth, instead of selecting through a cricket tournament?

His answer perhaps best exemplifies the chain of aspirations that economic empowerment triggers. Organizing a cricket tournament was this person’s way of communicating to his community that they too could rise up in the social chain and not just work for subsistence, and at the same time the element of competition was introduced so that the youth of his village valued the sponsorship they were about to get.

The bullet train project, in conjunction with other similar infrastructure projects in the timeline, has the potential to once again kick-start this economic aspirational chain at multiple levels. The confidence booster and its trickle-down to other areas plus the usual development of many ancillary activities around the construction of the high speed line and the manufacture of the coaches in India are likely to be substantial. If a trophy project can be executed within time and cost estimates, then it will give our nation the confidence and self-belief about executing other projects.


Leave a comment

Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,

‘Japan, China studied scope for bullet trains’

Agencies from China and Japan have conducted studies on the scope for operation of bullet trains between Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Chennai-New Delhi, said Navin Tandon, Railway Board Member (Electrical), on Monday.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the two-day long 60th Electrical Standards Committee meeting held at Udhagamandalam that was attended by officials from the 16 zonal railway centres.

In the backdrop of increasing demand for operation of bullet trains, an agency from Japan has studied the scope for operating a bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

These trains required separate tracks for travelling at a speed of 250 kmph and the cost of implementing this project is pegged at Rs. 97,000 crore. Similarly, a China-based agency has studied the scope on the Chennai–New Delhi section. He said that serious steps were being taken to increase speed of current trains and also by going in for high speed trains such as bullet trains.

At present, the fastest train is between New Delhi and Agra, which travels at a speed of 150 kmph, and there is a proposal to increase the speed to 160 kmph.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Uncategorized



Japan offers India soft loan for $15 billion bullet train in edge over China

Japan has offered to finance India’s first bullet train, estimated to cost $15 billion, at an interest rate of less than 1 percent, officials said, stealing a march on China, which is bidding for other projects on the world’s fourth-largest network.

Tokyo was picked to assess the feasibility of building the 505-kilometre corridor linking Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, and concluded it would be technically and financially viab ..

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,

Japan Bullet Trains are riding to India to modernize in a super-fast way

High Speed Rail network is one of the show piece of any developed country, and it is also considered as mandatory for accelerating growth and sustaining the economy at a speed. The Japan bullet train [Shinkansen]; a super-fast, modern, clean and safe way to travel has been transporting users for over 50 years at an average speed of over 200 mph in Japan. It has become an icon of Japanese culture and a means of transport for millions of people every year. It is nothing but pure engineering beauty.

About 800 Bullet trains per day, are in service. The reliability of Japanese train is such that According to many research reports, the Shinkansen’s average delay from schedule per train is 36 seconds, including delays due to uncontrollable causes, such as natural disasters. With an impressive safety record of 50 years running history, carrying nearly 10 billion passengers, there have been no passenger fatalities despite frequent and heavy earthquakes and typhoons.

Indian and Japan Government teams are working for past 5 to 6 years towards implementing this Superfast Shinkansen trains in India to provide extremely efficient time and energy saving along with security and safety for passengers. The actual construction work for first ever bullet train line in India is expected to begin in 2017, and expected completion in 2023 and made operational by 2024. The Japan International Cooperation Agency recently submitted the final study report on the feasibility study of the proposed high-speed rail system on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route to the Indian Railways minister, estimating the ambitious project would cost Rs 988,050 million. Japanese government has offered to fund the project at a low interest rate. However, the loan offer comes with the rider that 30 per cent materials for the project would be sourced from Japanese firms.

Many Japanese firms who are notable for Super-fast trains in Japan; have started bidding for this project funding and also have started approaching the Japanese agencies in identifying to sell their equipment’s or services for India bullet train plan. Not only the firms that are pitching for this project; along with this project there is industrial corridor planned in which zones are expected to be developed. In other words multi-dimensional output is expected along with bullet train corridor.

While technically every aspect of modernizing the transportation is appreciable by everyone; the cost factor seems to be not welcomed by everyone. Even in Japan; shinkansen ticket pricing is considered as every expensive travel mode if considered to travel less than 2 hours route. There are low cost carriers both train and flight which is far lesser than shinkansen pricing. The Bullet trains either be run on the long distance, medium distance routes, the fact is it will be more expensive than Normal trains or other transportation modes.

There is a view to the consumer cost that is cost of implementing this train line and the impact to the economy. UCLA`s economic analysis of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train and its impact on the growth of cities raised a question in the report mentioning Construction of Japan’s bullet train did not generate higher economic growth or additional jobs, according to the study.

In comparison with China often it is told that china in way had made its way to achieve the bullet train capability by implementing on its own and implementing bullet train has brought china a new industrial image, while India is nowhere less then implementing on its own when it comes to these hi-fi technologies; the other nations are also in competition to provide technologies to India. China is also one of the country currently conducting feasibility study for a high speed railway in the over 2000 km long New Delhi-Chennai corridor, while Japan is doing the same for Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor.

Whereas India has lots of challenges to overcome in implementing superfast bullet train line; not limited to fencing, passenger pricing and or building entirely new terrain tracks. Many engineers in India who work in the old train lines consider that spending crores of rupees on the bullet train project is an unnecessary expense. Many of these think that this money would be better spent on improving the trains that they already have and expanding the number of train lines.

The good news is most people in India do agree with these new super-fast trains because of all the conveniences they bring and eagerly are waiting for Bullet train riding. India is a fast growing economy and getting from point A to point B needs to become faster and companies need to trust that their employees will get to where they need to be on time and that’s where the Shinkansen trains are best. Despite the challenges that the firms may face; one fact is that it certainly improves in providing job along the corridor as many firms are expected to pop up.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Railway regulator details soon coming online for comments

Details of a proposed railway regulatory authority will soon be put online to seek the views of stakeholders, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Wednesday.

“We are working on the regulatory authority and soon we will put it online,” he said while inaugurating an international rail conference here organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian Railways.

The establishment of a railway regulator with powers of tariff regulation was among the recommendations of the committee headed by Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy.

It had suggested the setting up of a regulator independent of the ministry, with a separate budget.

“The Railway Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI) will have the powers and objectives of economic regulation, including wherever necessary tariff regulation, safety regulation, pair access regulation, service standard regulation, licensing and enhancing compensation and setting technical standards,” it said.

Prabhu said his ministry was determined to break the vicious cycle of low investment and low quality of services, which has enveloped the Indian Railways owing to inadequate attention being given to the vital sector.

“We will usher in a new eco-system which is vibrant, revenue generating, technology friendly so that our dependence on budgetary allocation is reduced,” he said.

Japan is the partner country for international railway equipment exhibition 2015, that is being attended by 400 exhibitors from 20 countries, including the US, Britain, China and Germany.

Prabhu referred to the excellent response he received from the Japanese government and the private sector there when he visited the country in September.

“The Japanese are excited not only about the high speed train segment alone. The new framework of technology agreement envisages a whole spectrum of partnership in various rail related segments like manufacture of electrical locomotives and sharing of cutting edge technologies,” he said.

Speaking at the inauguration, Japan’s Minister of State of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Junzo Yamamoto expressed the hope that Japan would be a major player in India’s transformation towards high-speed or bullet trains and explained how the far-flung areas in Japan have become economically active with the induction of bullet trains.

“India also can derive these benefits upon transforming into the high speed saga,” Yamamoto said.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Steam engines to bullet trains: Operational excellence a key challenge for Indian Railways

Indian Railways has come a long way since the time of steam engines. Connectivity between Delhi and Mumbai through a high-speed bullet train is no longer a pipe dream, but an imminent prospect.

There has been a fair amount of criticism about the slow pace of progress in the Railways, even though there has been tangible progress under the new regime. Key steps taken by the ministry under the leadership of railway minister Suresh Prabhu are evident of the ongoing commitment to achieve operational excellence in one of the world’s largest and oldest rail networks.

To begin with, Indian Railways has considerably improved its operating performance in the current year—this is the first time in the last 7 years that Indian Railways’ operating ratio (the amount it spends to earn a rupee) has been healthier than what had been budgeted. It currently stands at 91.3% over the budget target of 92.5%.

Robust monitoring & reporting mechanism: It is particularly encouraging to note key changes brought about by the minister to bolster Indian Railways’ operating performance—this includes constituting an unprecedented Quarterly Performance Review for the Railways, akin to private firms. The ministry also has begun monitoring progress on budget announcements every 15 days via an online portal called ‘eSamiksha’—this has brought about a welcome sense of urgency and accountability across ranks of the organisation.

Boosting public private partnership (PPP): The success of PPP has reaped rich benefits in other infrastructure sectors, and the same must be replicated in the Railways on a large scale. Over the next four years, PPPs are expected to contribute R1 lakh crore of investment into the sector. This will also bring in innovative financing mechanisms in areas like redevelopment of stations (the Cabinet has approved the development of over 400 stations via PPP); electrification and signalling; construction of freight lines and elevated corridors; and port and mine connectivity projects. These can be effectively structured into EPC or BOT projects for best results. The ministry is pursuing these avenues in a significant way and, given the scope of these projects, there certainly will be large companies lining up to take part in this growth opportunity.

The game-changer—dedicated freight corridors: The implementation of DFCs will be a game-changer for India’s freight transportation market with the Railways reclaiming the leading role in this sector. This will create 3,300 km of additional high-capacity lines, ease congestion from the existing network and give an impetus to Make-in-India in the industrial corridors coming along DFCs. The ministry is working on a war-footing to actualise the targets; 85% of land has been acquired for DFCs, R16,975 crore of commitments have been made since November 2014 (as compared to R10,401 crore since the inception of the scheme) and the first section of 56 km of the DFC is set to be opened for traffic on schedule.

Benchmarking to international standards: Another commendable move is the proposed technological collaboration with foreign railways for development of world-class terminals and stations. The ministry is working with World Bank experts to benchmark operational efficiencies with global best practices, and top consultants are being engaged to undertake a study on current operational practices. These indicate a willingness to change and adopt latest technology on part of the ministry, which will percolate down the ranks.

Improving customer experience: Issues ranging from cleanliness of platforms and trains to the difficulty in procuring tickets have been pain points for the vast majority of passengers for long. There now is a visible difference in terms of cleanliness at stations and trains, in line with the Swachh Bharat vision. A new department has been created and given charge of train and station cleanliness. In terms of ticketing, a number of measures have been introduced like mobile paperless ticketing at metro and suburban areas and ticket vending machines. The IRCTC website and apps have been revamped to handle increased ticketing load and made more user-friendly and robust.

Superior riding comfort: Procurement of state-of-the-art train sets, which has been a long pending issue, has been addressed and proposals from leading global firms are under evaluation. This will bring in modern, world-class high-speed trains which can be deployed on overnight routes to attract airline passengers. Plans are to have these train sets manufactured locally promote Make-in-India. The National Institute of Design has been roped in to provide expert inputs for improving coach interiors as well as external branding. There is a plan to engage IRCTC to transform railway retiring rooms into three-star facilities—this will be a big step forward in terms of upgrading customer amenities.

These initiatives, supplemented by the strategic policy reforms announced earlier this year, including the recent MoU with LIC to tie up funding worth R1.5 lakh crore, establishment of the financing cell along with banks and, most recently, the railway user outreach programme—Railyatri/Upbhokta Pakhwada—are the measures to make Indian Railways more customer-focused.

By: Rana Kapoor

The author is president, Assocham, and MD & CEO, YES Bank

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,