Indian officials will seek expert Japanese consultation to develop areas surrounding 12 proposed bullet train stations on the 508km Rs1100bn ($14.91bn) Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train route to improve connectivity.

In December last year, India and Japan signed an agreement to cooperate on the development of a high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Japan will provide technical and financial assistance for the project through a soft loan worth Rs880bn ($11.93bn) at a 0.1% interest rate.

Senior officials from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Gujarat’s Urban Development and Municipal Commissioners agreed to take consultation from Japanese experts to develop areas around the stations and connect them to bus, metro and other forms of transportation.

“Unless the stations are well-connected with neighbouring districts, the bullet train service will not attract the ridership required to make the project viable.”

The 12 proposed stations include Bandra Kurla Complex, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Baroda, Anand, Sabarmati and Ahmedabad.

Indian Railways will follow a transit-oriented development plan for these stations to ensure they become a commercial hub, as well improve connectivity between the stations and adjoining areas.

The transit-oriented development model focuses on maximising residential, business and leisure space in the vicinity of public transport.

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The terminal building will house eateries, foreign exchange counters, malls and parking lots. Passengers will have access to seamless connectivity between the bullet train network and other services such as the metro and bus services.

IANS quoted the official as saying: “Unless the stations are well-connected with neighbouring districts, the bullet train service will not attract the ridership required to make the project viable.”

The introduction of the bullet train service is slated for August 2022 and is expected to reduce travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to about two hours down from seven.