The government, in February 2016, established the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), entrusting it with the task to plan and execute bullet train projects in India. Incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, NHSRCL, the developer of high-speed rail corridors in India, is modelled as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and has equity participation by the centre through the Railways Ministry and state governments, for state-specific projects. The NHSRCL is a joint venture of the government of India and participating state governments, for implementation of HSRs across India. By providing India with an efficient bullet train network, the state-run company aims to ‘usher India into the category of select countries that use high-speed railway systems’, while also boosting economic prospects.
According to a study by researchers at the London School of Economics and University of Hamburg, towns connected to high-speed rail networks, witnessed a rise of at least 2.7% in GDP, as compared to neighbouring towns that were not on the route. Their study also noted that there was a direct correlation between increase in GDP and better market access through high-speed rail, with a 0.25% rise in GDP for each 1% increase in market access. The research focused on the Cologne-Frankfurt line, which opened in 2002 and has trains that run at 300 kmph.
Bullet train projects by NHSRCL
The NHSRCL is already building the first high-speed rail India project – the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. The government has also entrusted the NHSRCL with the task of preparing the detailed project reports for seven high-speed rail corridors, after the Railways sanctioned feasibility studies for these bullet train corridors in September 2020. These new corridors include:
- Delhi-Amritsar bullet train project
- Varanasi-Howrah bullet train project
- Delhi-Varanasi bullet train project
- Delhi-Ahmedabad bullet train project
- Mumbai-Hyderabad bullet train project
- Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train project
- Chennai-Mysore bullet train project
Bullet trains in India
Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train: India’s first bullet train project
Being executed by the NHSRCL, the Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor (MAHSRC) is the country’s first high-speed rail corridor. To be built using Japan’s E5 Shinkansen technology, the project will see trains running at over 300 kms per hour, reducing travel time between the two cities remarkably.
There will be 12 stations along the corridor, which will cover a length of over 508 kms through Maharashtra, Gujarat and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The network will cover 155.76 kms in Maharashtra (7.04 kms in Mumbai suburban, 39.66 kms in Thane and 109.06 kms in Palghar), 4.3 kms in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and 348.04 kms in Gujarat.
Mumbai Ahmedabad bullet train stations: Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, (in Maharashtra), Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati (in Gujarat).
A total of 1,396 hectares are needed to be acquired. The Mumbai Ahmedabad bullet train land acquisition will involve acquisition of 956 hectares in Gujarat, eight hectares in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and 432 hectares in Maharashtra.
The bullet train will run on an elevated track, 10 to 15 metres above the ground on a viaduct all along, except for 26 kms that will run underground in Mumbai. All the stations on the route will be elevated, except the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) station.
While the NHSRCL set an initial target to complete the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train by 2023, land acquisition issues in Maharashtra and the construction ban due to the Coronavirus pandemic, have made it nearly impossible for the agency to meet that target.
(Source: NHSRCL on Facebook)
NHSRCL signs MoU with JRTC for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project design
In February 2021, the NHSRCL signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan Railway Track Consultant Co. Limited (JRTC), for the designs of high-speed rail (HSR) track works for T2 package for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project. JRTC will provide detailed designs for major HSR track components like track slab arrangement, RC track bed, continuous welded rail forces, etc. “This signing of the MoU marks a very important milestone for the MAHSR project. This also symbolises strong team work and association, which I am sure will not be limited to the MAHSR project but may also continue for other future projects in other countries,” said Achal Khare, managing director, NHSRCL, at a virtual meet to announce the signing of the MoU.
Also read latest developments in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project
Proposed bullet train corridors in India
While work is already underway on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project, planning is also on to develop seven more such projects in various parts of the country. Before we proceed to talk about these projects, note that none of the seven HSR corridors have been sanctioned by the government, as yet.
“The decision on sanctioning any HSR project depends on the outcome of the detailed project report, techno-economic feasibility, availability of resources and financing options. The preparation of DPRs for these corridors is still in progress and the alignment/route for the corridors has not yet been finalised,” said railways minister Piyush Goyal, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha in March 2021. The NHSRCL expects to come up with the DPR for these corridors between 2021 and 2022.
Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train project
In March 2021, the NHSRCL announced it was starting the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) survey for the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur high-speed rail corridor. Considered to be India’s second bullet train project, this 753-km corridor will pass through cities in Maharashtra like Nagpur, Khapri Depot, Wardha, Pulgaon, KaranjaLad, Malegaon Jahangir, Mehkar, Jalna, Aurangabad, Shirdi, Nashik, Igatpuri and Shahapur.
Under the survey, helicopters fitted with the state-of-the-art aerial LiDAR and imagery sensors, will use a combination of laser data, GPS coordinates, flight parameters and actual photographs, for accurate survey data. With the help of this technology, the agency will be able to gather all ground details and data in three to four months.
Based on the findings of the LiDAR survey, land requirements, location of stations, structures, alignment, identification of affected plots/structures, right of way, etc., will be decided.
See also: All you need to know about the Mumbai Metro corridors
Delhi-Varanasi High-Speed Rail project (DVHSR)
A proposal is also under consideration, to build a high-speed corridor connecting the national capital with Varanasi, a prominent educational, trade and religious hub in UP. Upon completion, the bullet train will reduce the travel time between Delhi and Varanasi to merely three hours.
The proposed 800-km Delhi-Varanasi High-Speed Rail (DVHSR) corridor will connect Delhi with 22 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Mathura, Agra, Etawah, Lucknow, Raebareli, Prayagraj, Bhadohi, Ayodhya and Varanasi. The route, with 12 stations, will also have connectivity with the upcoming international airport in Jewar.
After the detailed project report (DPR) for the Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail Corridor was submitted to the Railway Ministry in October 2020, the NHSRCL, in January 2021, started a LiDAR survey for the proposed corridor.
Delhi-Amritsar high-speed rail
In December 2020, the NHSRCL invited online open e-tenders for alignment design, including aerial LiDAR survey and other infrastructure-related works, for the 459-km Delhi-Amritsar high-speed rail corridor, considered to be India’s fourth bullet train project. The corridor is expected to have six stations apart from Delhi and Amritsar, including Sonipat, Panipat, Ambala, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.
Delhi-Ahmedabad high speed-rail corridor
The Delhi-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor will cover a distance of around 886 kms and will pass through Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan. With 12 stations, the corridor will have stops at Himatnagar, Udaipur, Bhilwara–Chittorgarh, Ajmer–Kishangarh, Jaipur, Neemrana, Rewari, Manesar–Gurgaon and two stops at Delhi. In 2020, the NHSRCL invited tenders for data collection and associated survey work for the project, in order to prepare the DPR.
Mumbai-Hyderabad high-speed rail corridor
The NHSRCL is also working to prepare the DPR for the 711-km-long Mumbai-Hyderabad high-speed rail corridor, which will pass through Pune. The corridor will have 10 stations, including Navi Mumbai, Lonawala, Pune, Kurkumb, Akluj, Solapur, Kalaburagi, Zaheerabad and Hyderabad and is expected to cut the total travel time to three-and-a-half hours.
Chennai-Mysore high-speed rail corridor
The sixth HSR corridor planned by the centre in 2019, the Chennai–Mysore High-Speed Rail (CBM Bullet Train) project would run a distance of 435 kms and connect Chennai, Bangalore and Mysore through nine stations. The proposed corridor is expected to reduce travel time between the three key cities to one-and-a-half hours. The stations on the corridor include Chennai, Poonamallee, Arakkonam, Chittor, Bangarapet, Bengaluru, Channapatna, Mandya and Mysore. In December 2020, the NHSRCL invited tenders for preparing the DPR for the 435-km-long Chennai-Mysore rail corridor.
Varanasi-Howrah high-speed rail corridor
The 760-km-long Varanasi-Howrah high-speed rail project is proposed to connect Varanasi, Patna and Kolkata through a bullet train network. Upon completion, the proposed project will cover the distance between the two cities in less than three hours.
The NHSRCL invited tenders for preparing the DPR for the 760-km-long Varanasi-Howrah high speed rail corridor in December 2020 and received bids from six companies to do the job.
NHSRCL is government or private?
The NHSRCL is a public sector undertaking SPV with 50% equity from the central government and the remaining share belonging to the state governments of Maharashtra (25%) and Gujarat (25%).
What is bullet train?
A bullet train refers to a high-speed rail transport system that runs significantly faster than traditional railways.
What is the speed of bullet train?
Bullet trains travel at speeds of 300-350 kms per hour.