Of the Rs 1.10 lakh crore investment required for the project, Japan is providing Rs 88,000 crore as a soft loan at 0.01 per cent interest.
However, release of the Japanese funding is linked to land acquisition.
Acquiring 825 hectares of land may become a major hurdle for the completing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project by 2022.
Experts said advancing the project’s deadline by a year to August 2022 may not be feasible considering the complex land acquisition process involved.
Of the Rs 1.10 lakh crore investment required for the project, Japan is providing Rs 88,000 crore as a soft loan at 0.01 per cent interest. However, release of the Japanese funding is linked to land acquisition.
“We are expecting land acquisition to be completed within one-and-a-half years. Japan has provided Rs 6,000 crore as the first tranche of the loan for setting up the Sabarmati station and a high-speed rail training institute.
The remaining loan will be provided after the land acquisition is complete,” said a source close to the development. Though the initial land requirement was 1,650 hectares, the National High Speed Rail Corporation settled on 825 hectares by including an elevated stretch.
Initial feasibility reports have identified 163 villages in eight districts of Gujarat, 44 villages in three districts of Maharashtra and some areas in Dadra and Nagar Haveli for land acquisition. About 2,761 families will be affected.
Among the affected families, 1,653 are house owners, 847 have a member who is an employee of a business or commercial establishment likely to be affected by the project, and 116 are tenants.
The remaining 5 per cent of families fall in the category of registered leaseholders, illegal occupiers and others.
Around 1,688 structures in 207 villages will be affected by the project. Asked how confident the government was about completing the project by 2022, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said, “We are confident, considering the pace at which the Modi government has completed all its projects.”
The 508-km line will cover 156 km in Maharashtra, 351 km in Gujarat and 2 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It will have a 21 km tunnel with 7 km under sea in Thane Creek.
The line will have 12 stations in Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. The bullet train will run at a speed of 320-350 km per hour.
“In the initial stage, the route will have 35 trains with 10 coaches each, which will be increased to 105 trains by 2023,” an official said.
A major advantage of the bullet train is its 2.58 hour run. A flight on the same route takes 1.20 hours.
Airlines a competitor to bullet train
Though the fare structure for Rs 1.10 lakh crore is yet to be finalised, the initial estimates suggest that the high speed rail fares are likely to be 1.5 times the existing first class AC train tickets.
The current fare of AC first class on Ahmedabad-Mumbai route is in the range of Rs 1,700-2,300, while flight tickets starts from Rs 2,000 onwards.
This means a traveller will have to pay much more than existing flight ticket prices to travel on bullet trains.
One of the major advantages that the project offers is the reduction of running time from close to eight hours to 2.58 hours.
A flight journey on the same route takes only 1.20 hours, making air travel more cost effective and time saving compared to bullet train.