Work on India’s first bullet train, a $17bn line between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, was formally launched yesterday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
Seen as a step-change for India’s vast but dilapidated rail network, the 300km/h-plus railway is expected to be fully operational by August 2022, in time for the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
Japan is providing 81% of the funding for the estimated 1.08-trillion-rupee ($16.9-billion) project, through a 50-year loan at 0.1% annual interest, Reuters reported.
The train will run at a top speed of 350km/h, covering the 508km stretch in a little more than two hours, down from the current journey time of around 8 hours.
En route, the railway will have 12 stops.
A 21-km-long tunnel will be built between Boisar and BKC in Mumbai, of which 7km will be under water.
Newspaper The Hindu reports that land acquisition for the mammoth undertaking will in itself be a "Herculean task".
Initial estimates peg the land needed for the project at 825 hectares. About 92% of the route will be elevated, 6% will go through tunnels, and only 2% would be on the ground, according to The Hindu.
At first the train will have 10 coaches with a seating capacity of 750 passengers but capacity is expected to expand to 16 coaches with a seating capacity of 1,250 passengers.
Image: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, about to board a bullet train in Tokyo November 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)