Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project Will Be A Real Gamechanger. Here’s Why And How

With the award of a Rs 24,000 crore contract — the largest ever government-funded civil job assignment — in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor to the infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro, the flagship project has gained the traction in the right earnest.

After the award of the contract in the presence of Satoshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to India, along with officials from Railways and the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL), the construction company has said that they have already started the work and their employees are on the ground.

As part of the contract, Larsen & Turbo will design and construct 47 per cent of the alignment for the bullet train project.

Out of 508 km of the bullet train project, the company will develop a 237- km-long viaduct between Vapi (Zaroli Village at Maharashtra- Gujarat Border) and Vadodara.

The construction major will create and develop four stations which are Vapi, Billimora, Surat and Bharuch. The work also involves developing the entire Surat depo, 14 river crossings, 42 road crossings, six railway crossings, and one mountain tunnel of 350 meters length.

The company has been provided with four years to complete this project.
This contract was approved and the government allowed NHSRCL to start work on the Gujarat side of the bullet train route, since Maharashtra is still struggling to get the land for this project.

In a clear directive, the Prime Minister has recently asked the Railways to go ahead with the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor and complete the work at least on the Gujarat portion on time, if the prevailing issues don’t get resolved for the stretch falling in Maharashtra.

So, as per the plan being worked out, the Railways is likely to begin the bullet train operations at least on the Gujarat portion once work is completed on this side.

Of the 508.17 km-long bullet train corridor, 155.76 km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The project is estimated to cost around Rs 1.1 lakh crore, with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency financing 81 per cent of the project cost.

The bullet train project, a first in the country, is expected to create thousands of direct and indirect employment opportunities and stimulate the economy.

An expected view of the project.

An expected view of the project.

During the construction phase of this section, the areas around the alignment will also witness social and economic development. There will be employment generation not only for professionals like engineers, technicians, designers, architects etc but also for skilled and semi-skilled workforce and construction workers.

There will be a boost in the demand of construction material and machinery like cement, steel, heavy construction machinery, cranes, trailers, etc.

The ancillary industries like hospitality, entertainment, health, tourism, real estate and housing and education will also flourish during the construction.

The high speed trains will be using heavy compound catenary for the first time in India. The trains have put the focus on disaster management systems by continuous monitoring and control of train speeds.

“We have also given focus to fire safety and, we need to establish a specification of the components of the seat, identifying the sources for developing them locally and further establish a supply chain,” said Achal Khare, NHSRCL Managing Director, in a business chamber event.

NHSRCL has taken steps towards self-reliance by jointly identifying items with Japan to promote Make in India. It has created a high-speed rail innovation centre trust.

Items have been identified for indigenisation and industries/institutes are developing indigenisation solutions that will have opportunities in the Indian Railways.

Bullet trains with a maximum speed of 320 kmph will have three categories — standard, business, and first-class.

The project will have a multiplier effect on the Indian economy by generating employment; amplifying skill development and boosting local industrial production.

The high-speed rail corridor is expected to revolutionise the connectivity of the nation with seven new corridors that have been studied.

Sanjay Aggarwal, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that India’s need to further improve connectivity across the nation for economic and social development has also been paramount and, this has formed the main basis for the High-Speed Rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Describing bullet train project as the future of Indian travel which is set for a paradigm change, Aggarwal said improved and faster connectivity will be the biggest outcome of the project and, with proposals for seven more high-speed rail corridors, India will witness a transport revolution.

The High Speed Rail Training Institute.

The High Speed Rail Training Institute.

Indian Railways has also sanctioned the feasibility studies for seven more bullet train corridors, which will be open to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model and will further fuel Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call of pushing for an “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” in Infrastructure also.

According to NHSRCL, there are many positive benefits of the High-Speed Project, which would be useful in India’s overall aspirational development.

Technology enhancement into other domains, real estate, economic and business development along the route, development in both the major hubs of the country, a game-changing sense of connectivity, and cutting-edge infrastructure are some major tangible benefits.

Other allied sectors like tourism, medical, and education sectors in the region will get a boost because of minimal travel time while visiting tourist places and accessing quality education and medical services.

From enabling faster passenger traffic between cities to providing a safer and reliable mode of transport, and from opening a world of employment opportunities to introducing high-quality technology in the country — there are many factors that will determine the economic success of the High Speed Rail (HSR) project in the country.

Experts believe that the most significant effect of the bullet train project is the local impact the project of this magnitude can create — which could prove to be a major ingredient in its socio-economic appraisal.

Since the introduction of the first Shinkansen in Japan in 1964, high-speed trains have proven to be an undeniable technological, commercial and popular success.

Many countries since then have adopted the technology and invested in what today has become a vast network of high-speed rail lines — most notable among them being countries like the U.K, France, Germany, Spain, China and most recently U.S.A, Australia and South Africa among others.

With the completion of the project, the travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be brought down to under two hours, which otherwise by road is around 8-9 hours and by air is 4-5 hours, including reaching the airport and coming out of the terminal and touching the destination.

People who often commute between these two states for business or work purposes can, in this way, reach their destination much faster, carry out their work and even return to their hometown in much lesser time and at lower cost.

Though the bullet train may not be the ultimate solution to dealing with the monsoon situation in the country — nor does it promise to provide an answer to the commuting woes during the rainy season — it can, however, operate in all-weather conditions, and can indeed provide some relief in traffic congestion situations not just during the monsoon, but under any other weather problem like hail, storm etc.

High-speed trains operate on schedule every day without delay, especially during peak travel time or rush hours.

Cities along the line of the corridor are expected to have greater connectivity and will experience a jump in their socio-economic status.

All the 12 stations of the project — BKC, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati — are expected to gain substantially with the completion of the project.

Faster connectivity between the two cities using the high speed rail can give a jump to the demand for products being produced in Vapi, which can lead to a positive effect on the entire production chain.

With the similar model replicated for all the other cities along the length of the HSR project corridor, one can expect a great economic surge in the country.

The greater need for production means an increased need for labour and other workforces.

An HSR project can have a direct as well indirect impact on the labour market as well.

Direct impact can be seen from the skilled workforce that would be required immediately for the work related to the project.

According to an estimate, the bullet train project is expected to create 4,000 direct job opportunities, along with 35,000 to 40,000 indirect jobs.

Approximately 40,000 construction workers are also expected to be employed during the set up period of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train.

Now this number only goes up as and when each phase of the construction is executed and the new one is put in place. This aside, there will also be a jump in the need of a skilled workforce to work in big and small industries and other projects that will stem along the project corridor.

The project is also expected to give rise to the tourism industry along the corridor. Be it Upvan Lake in Thane, Arnala Fort in Virar, Wilson hills in Vapi or Gira Falls in Bilimora, the corridor is filled with numerous tourist attractions.

It also includes historical sites like Pavagadh Fort (Anand), Surat Castle (Surat), Lakshmi Vilas Palace (Vadodara) among many others.

Places like Dang Darbar in Bilimora, Dashashwamedh Ghat in Bharuch, and Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati will make you witness the true culture of these places.

The advent of the bullet train will catapult the tourism sector of this area, resulting in a boost to the hospitality industry as well.

Moreover, the HSR stations will also act as destination spots and will enhance economic activities.

For someone running businesses in both Mumbai and Ahmedabad, a bullet train project will not only make travelling between the two cities easy but also cut down on the costs and time that they’d incur while travelling through roadways or airways.

As part of the transfer of technology deal, employees will be sent to Japan as well as be trained here in the country. Since the technology used for the project is coming from Japan, gaining mastery of the tools, technology, material and systems will help the Indian workforce adapt effectively to higher global demands, going forward.

It will increase their prospects of staying relevant in a constantly changing technological landscape and will have access to better and improved systems and procedures which, when applied to any field, can yield benefits.

Engineers, ground workers, management trainees, PR executives, architects, consultants, designers, town planners, construction workers and many others are, likewise, expected to benefit from the project.

Another interesting aspect of the project is the thrust it will give to the ‘Make In India’ initiative.

As part of the Transfer of Technology (ToT) aspect of the project, for the parts that are to be made in India, Japan will share their blueprints and methodology behind their creation with their Indian counterparts.

Further then, India, under the ‘Make in India’ scheme, will then replicate and recreate these elements related to the project as per the terms of the plan.

A mega project like this needs the support of an equally world-class infrastructure. With the increase in passenger movement along the length of the project corridor, real-estate projects like schools, townships, commercial hubs, industrial buildings, independent houses, commercial shops, office complexes, entertainment hubs, hospitality units are likely to come up.

With so much of economic activity happening around these towns, a boom in the real-estate market of these areas cannot be underestimated.

This will give real estate developers and buyers ample time to plan their purchases.

In short, the 508-km corridor between Mumbai-Ahmedabad can look forward to a complete transformation in both economic as well as cultural terms.