Amid growing concerns about uncertainty in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor due to the delay in land acquisition and escalating costs, the railways reaffirmed that the ambitious rail project at high speed was on track.

In addition, the railways have also ruled out any renegotiation of the terms and conditions of the loan with the Japanese agency, which finances 81% of the total cost of the project.

It is estimated that of the total of Rs 110,000 crore that will be spent on the 508 km long high-speed rail corridor project, Rs 88,000 crore will be provided to India in the form of a loan.

These loans will be available at an interest rate of 0.1% and India will be able to repay them in 50 years with a moratorium on repayments of up to 15 years.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funds 81% of
the total cost of the first high speed train project in India.

However, the National High Speed ​​Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), the executing agency for the project, had to deal with issues ranging from protests by farmers to increasing the cost of the project due to the discrepancy. growing between the Indian rupee and the Japanese yen. , resulting in a significant increase in costs.

The NHSRCL has acquired around 60% of the land (around 77% of land in Gujarat, 80% in Dadar Nagar Haveli and 22% in Maharashtra) needed for the project, with a deadline of December 2023.

However, acknowledging the increase in costs, Railway Board (CRB) Chairman VK Yadav agreed that there would be an increase in the cost of the project, but denied that there was any renegotiation of the loan with JICA.

“I want to confirm that there is no renegotiation regarding the terms and conditions of the loan,” Yadav said in a statement.

The high-speed train project was launched at a ceremony at Gandhinagar in Ahmedabad in September 2017 in the presence of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Yes, there is an escalation in costs, but now is not the right time to review costs. This will be done when we finalize the tenders. As in any project, we finalize the estimated cost based on the historical cost. But the real cost is not known until the time of the call for tenders. This is the time when we come to know what the cost of the project is, ”Yadav said.

NHSRCL will purchase 24 E5 series Shinkansen trainsets to operate on the corridor, six of which are to be assembled in India.

Trains must be customized to operate in Indian conditions.

“When it comes to escalating costs, in any project, regardless of the estimated cost, when the work is done and when the work is completed, there is bound to be an increase in costs either due to the escalation of costs. costs, due to inflation or due to a design change, ”said CRB.

The high-speed rail corridor will have 12 stations between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The stations offered are Bandra Kurla Complex, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The high-speed train, with a capacity of 750 people, is expected to reduce travel time between the two major cities to less than three hours from seven hours currently.

According to the feasibility report, if the high-speed train stops at these 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and 58 minutes at a speed of 320 km / h.

However, if the train only stops at four stations, the distance can be covered in two hours and seven minutes.

Yadav said that due to the Covid-19 situation, the land acquisition process has experienced delays and that by this fiscal year the process will be completed. He said physical work on the project will begin after the acquisition of 90 percent of the land.

Tenders have also been issued for nine lots so far, he added.

Of the 508 km of the route, 468 km of the track will be elevated, 27 km of the route will have a tunnel and the remaining 13 km will be on the ground.

The 27 km tunnel will cross seven km under the sea near Thane, making it India’s first submarine railway.

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