Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Link, India
The proposed 534km Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed link, which is in early stage of development, will be India's maiden high-speed rail project. The decision to carry out its feasibility study was taken in September 2013.
The high-speed rail project is part of the 650km Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad line, one of the six high-speed corridors identified for implementation in India. The high-speed rail (HSR) linking Ahmedabad of Gujarat with Maharashtra's capital Mumbai is being advanced as a fast track pilot project.
The high-speed line is expected to spearhead the bullet train services in other parts of India. The INR630bn ($9.65bn) project is expected to be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP).
Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project development
The pre-feasibility study for the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project was completed in December 2010 by French consulting firm Systra along with Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) and Italy's ITALFER.
The Pune-Mumbai section was dropped from the pilot phase implementation plan due to cost constraints. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR was prioritised for development based on intercity traffic projections and relatively higher per capita income in Gujarat and Maharashtra states.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Railways, Government of India and the French National Railway (SNCF) in February 2013, under which both the parties agreed to jointly carry out 'operations and development' feasibility of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project. SNCF agreed to fund the study with support from the French Ministry of Finance.
Overstretched rail and road networks have created an urgent need for a suitable high-capacity transport system within the Indian city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.
During the Indian prime minister's visit to Japan in My 2013, the prime ministers of both countries decided to co-finance a detailed joint feasibility study for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR. The Japan Internal Cooperation Agency (JICA) was given the go-ahead for the study in September 2013.
The detailed study, which examines the possibility of operating trains with a high speed of 300km/h as well as the funding pattern, alignment, patronage, possible halts and fare structure, is expected to be completed in 18 months.
Details of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Link project
If deemed feasible, the high-speed railway line construction between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is expected to take ten years to complete. The Pune-Mumbai HSR line will be implemented thereafter. The project is expected to be implemented through a public private partnership (PPP) mode on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis with Maharashtra and Gujarat state governments along with Indian Railways as public stakeholders.
The pre-feasibility study had projected around 26.6 million passengers using the high-speed line in 2021 and 104 million passengers in 2041.
The 534km line is expected to be built with elevated tracks along the existing rail route. The major stations along the high-speed line will include Surat, Bharuch and Vadodara. The travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is expected to be reduced to less than two hours compared to the current express journey time of more than six hours between the two cities.
Background and current status of the high-speed rail development in India
India boasts of one of the largest rail networks in the word with a total route length over 64,000km and more than 7,000 railway stations. However, the country does not have a high-speed line allowing train operations at more than 200km/h speeds. The current fastest train in India is the Bhopal Shatabdi that runs with a top speed of 150km/h.
The need for introducing high-speed rail (bullet train services at speeds up to 300km/h or more) has been emphasised repeatedly in India.
The first proposal to launch high-speed line in India was mooted in the mid 1980s with the proposed high-speed link between Delhi and Kanpur via Agra. The project, however, did not proceed due to high cost implications.
India has warmed up to the call of introducing high-speed rail during recent years. Indian Railways' Vision 2020 document unveiled in 2009 aims at operating regular passenger trains with speeds between 160km/h to 200km/h on segregated routes.
The vision document also calls for implementing high-speed rail projects with bullet train services in four out of the six identified corridors and planning eight more such corridors.
India's 12th Five-Year Plan envisages development of a high-speed rail corridor of 500km during the plan period. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR has been selected for implementation first. The pre-feasibility studies of other identified corridors were at various stages of completion by the beginning of 2013.
Indian Railway formed High Speed Rail Corporation of India (HSRC) in July 2012 to handle the high-speed projects from tendering to execution. National High Speed Rail Authority is also planned to be set up as a dedicated central agency for implementing the HSR corridor projects.