Let us run India’s first high-speed bullet train by you

Tea and coffee makers and rotating seats? Yes, please. Source: Shutterstock.

INDIA is about to get its first high-speed bullet train and Asia is hyped up.

There aren’t that many high-speed rail systems in Asia. With the exception of Japan (Shinkansen), currently, only Taiwan (THSR), South Korea (KTX), and China have that technology in the region.

India’s high-speed bullet train, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the country’s “Make in India” initiative, will connect economic hub Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

The cities are already connected by a railway but that route takes more than seven hours to travel the distance.

For the implementation of the project, financial aid and technical assistance are being provided by Japan, which is estimated to cost around INR 1.08 lakh crore (US$16.6 billion).

Skyline of Mumbai, the financial capital of India. Source: Shutterstock.

The overall development is likely to be over by 2022, but here’s what we know so far:

Hello, Japan’s Shinkansen: India’s National High Speed Railway Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) is responsible for executing the project of the high-speed train corridor but the link will use the E5 series Shinkansen with technology from Japan, operated by JR East. For the uninitiated, JR East is a major passenger railway company in Japan and one of the seven Japan Railways Group companies.

A scenic run: The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed bullet train route passes through 108 villages of Maharashtra, and the entire project will be fire and earthquake resistant. So passengers can enjoy a peaceful, scenic ride. There will even be a 7km-stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea.

It’ll go, “Whoosh!”:  The train will have a top speed of 350km per hour and will cover the distance of over 500km to link the two major cities in around two hours. It’s expected to depart every 20 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during off-peak hours from Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex and make 70 trips a day.

Source: Shutterstock.

Maximum capacity: Initially, the bullet train will have 10 coaches with a seating capacity of 750 passengers. However, it will later be extended to 15 coaches, increasing the seating capacity to 1,250 by 2033.

Two classes: The train will have two kinds of coaches for two classes – economy and executive. The economy class coach will have a seating configuration of 3+2 while the executive class coach will have a seating configuration of 2+2. Nine out of the 10 coaches will be standard while one will be executive class. The seats will also have automatic rotation facility.

Amazing amenities: Economy passengers can expect a multi-purpose room for breastfeeding mothers or sick passengers, space for luggage, folding beds, fast food vendors, separate washrooms with vacuum toilets for women, men, and the disabled. Executive passengers will enjoy seats with leg rests, extensive luggage space, tea and coffee makers, hand towel warmers, refrigerators, and more.

Green seats (first class) of the E5 series Shinkansen in Japan, operated by JR East. Source: Shutterstock.

Pit stops: There are 12 proposed stations along the route, including Bandra Kurla Complex, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Baroda, Anand, Sabarmati, and Ahmedabad. Stations will have baggage checking facilities. NHSRCL is also planning two schedules for the bullet trains, with the faster route stopping at fewer stations while the other will stop at all.

The cost: India’s Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis recently told the Legislative Council that the cost of traveling in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed bullet train would be comparable to conventional railway fares, The Times of India reported.

Contingency plan: Also NHSRCL is planning to purchase 24 bullet trains from Japan, only 20 trains will be in operation while the rest will be on standby for emergencies. A special train will also check the track every 10 days to ensure passenger safety.

The first bullet train is scheduled to leave for its first run on August 15, 2022