India’s first high-speed railway hit with $4.5bn cost hike

Japan’s plan to build a 508km high-speed railway between Mumbai and Ahmedabad has suffered a blow after the budget estimate was found to be more than $4.5bn less than the likely cost.

The Kyodo News website, quoting unnamed sources, said the two sides would discuss ways forward after the price of the Shinkansen-based system rose from $14.7bn to around $19.2bn.

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe and Indian president Narendra Modi agreed the plan in 2015, and will discuss its future at a summit.

The reason for the increase is partly due to India’s requirement that a reinforced elevated bridge be built using shield machines for excavations, the source said.

The shortfall follows a decision to push back the project’s completion date by five years, from 2023 to 2028. This was caused by difficulties in acquiring land for the line.

Under the agreement, Japan will provide $13.3bn in loans, Indian companies will take the lead in the construction process and East Japan Railway will provide the Shinkansen trains, as well as maintenance and training.

Construction work on the line, India’s first high-speed link, is still expected to begin in the spring. The route will include 460km of viaducts, 26km of tunnels and 9km of bridges. It will begin at the underground station in the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, and then cover 21km underground before emerging above ground at Thane.

The project will be divided into 27 packages, each with its own contractor.

Image: The line will use Shinkansen E5 trains (Toshinori Baba/CC1.0)  

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