PM Modi and Japanese PM Abe lay foundation stone for India’s first High Speed Rail project




New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today jointly laid the foundation stone for India’s first high speed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Speaking on the occasion, at a large public meeting in Ahmedabad, the Prime Minister spoke of the high ambition and willpower of “New India.” He congratulated the people of India on the occasion, and said that the bullet train project will provide speed and progress, and deliver results quickly. He said the Government’s focus is on increasing productivity through high speed connectivity. The Prime Minister thanked Japan for the technical and financial help given to India, for this project. He praised Prime Minister Abe for the fact that this project is being launched within such a short time.

The Prime Minister said that this high speed railway would not only bring two cities closer, but also bring the people living hundreds of kilometers away, closer to each other. He said a new economic system is being developed along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, and the entire area would become a single economic zone.

The Prime Minister said technology is useful only if it provides benefit to the common man. He said the technology transfer envisaged in this project will benefit Indian Railways, and boost the “Make in India” initiative. He said the project would be eco-friendly as well as human-friendly. He said “high-speed corridors” would be regions for rapid growth in the future.

The Prime Minister said that the Government is working to ensure that infrastructure is developed keeping in mind futuristic requirements. He expressed confidence that everyone would work together to complete this project in the shortest possible time. 

Background:
This Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project (popularly known as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train)is a  visionary project 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.

Low cost of the project
·        Major portions of large scale infrastructure projects are financed by debt, and the cost of debt is a significant portion of the total costs. As a part of cooperation agreement between India and Japan, Government of Japan will provide a soft loan of about Rs. 88,000 crore at miniscule interest rate of 0.1%. The repayment period of the loan is 50 years.Repayment of loan is to begin after 15 years of receiving the loan, making it practically free since, this loan interest works out to roughly Rs. 7-8 crore per month
·        Generally, any such loan even from World Bank or such other agencies costs about 5-7% with a repayment period of 25-35 years, thus India is getting loan for the High-Speed Rail Project at almost zero cost without putting any strain on existing financial resources available with the country, as more than 80% of the project cost is being funded by Government of Japan. Clearly Peter is not paying for Paul.
·        It is for the first time in the history of the country that an infrastructure project is being funded on such favourable terms.

Cutting edge versus catch up technology
·  Unlike other areas,for high speed, country is getting a cutting-edge technology in totality. The Shinkansen Technology is known for its reliability and safety and is proven for more than 50 years. The train delay record of Shinkansen is less than a minute with zero fatality.
· Thus,the project is set to provide reliable and comfortable service with high standards of safety. The technology regarding disaster predictions and preventions will also be acquired as a part of the project. Such safety systems ensure that the train operation safety is maintained in case of any natural calamity such as earthquake etc.
·   With the presence and availability of this technology, India will be 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.
·   As the engineering staff learns the latest technology it will also help in developing the same in India
·  Keeping this scale-up in mind, there are other high speed corridors which are being reviewed -  Delhi Kolkata, Delhi Mumbai, Mumbai Chennai, Delhi-Chandigarh, Mumbai-Nagpur, Delhi- Nagpur. All these corridors will also be able to operate high speed trains in the future. For this, the Ministry of Railways has constituted the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, which is also implementing this MAHSR project.

Salient Features of Mumbai - Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project: 
Overview
●       HSR: Defined as Railway Systems Running Trains at Speeds in excess of 250 kmph. Presently, available in 15 countries
●       India was a lone exception among major passenger railway systems not to have one
●       Feasibility study undertaken by Japanese Consultants in December 2013 and report submitted in July 2015
●       Recommendation of Empowered Committee for Innovative Collaborations (Chaired by Vice Chairman,NITI Aayog) and sanction by Cabinet in December, 2015.
●       Planned completion by December 2023
●       All-out efforts will be made to complete it by 15th August 2022

Key Features
●       Length 508 KMs (approx.), doubleline through two states, Maharashtra(156 KMs)and Gujarat(351 KMs) and UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (2 KMs).
●       Longest tunnel 21 KM switch 7 KMs undersea (Thane Creek).
●       12 stations: Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara,Anand, Ahmedabad,Sabarmati. Underground station Mumbai, all others elevated.
●       Maximum Design Speed- 350 kmph;
●       Maximum Operating speed of 320 kmph.
●       Journey Time:2.07hrs (limited stops), 2.58hrs (stopping at stations) vis a vis existing train travel time of 7-8 hours

Low Cost,High Speed
●       Cost estimated at Rs.1,08,000 crore-entire corridor elevated for safety and land economy.
●       81% of the project cost by Japanese soft loan at 0.1%per annum with repayment period 50 years–including grace period of 15 years.
●       Project funded by a loan on terms which tantamount to a grant.
●       First time in India that an infrastructure project is being funded under such favourable terms


Best tech available to India
●       Will launch Indian Railways to be select club of countries having the state of the art technology.
●       Shinkansen Technology Known for reliability and safety with proven track record of more than 50 years
●       Punctuality record is less than a minute with zero fatality
●       Reliable and comfortable services
●       Project Comes with technical support and handholding of the Japanese–will ensure complete transfer of know-how to Indians for future projects
●       High Speed Rail Training Institute at Vadodara to train 4,000 staff for operations and maintenance

Boost to Economy & Employment
●       20,000 construction jobs
●       4,000direct employment for operations and 20,000 indirect jobs too
●       Boost To Urban And Industrial Development Along The corridor
●       Ease Of Travel Between Cities And Enormous Capacity for commuting
●       Capacity building for other high speed projects


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