Bullet trains for India?

India’s train system is a remarkable piece of engineering, with some 71,000 physical miles of track, 41,000 miles of network and 7,172 stations – a colossus which carries 23 million passengers each day and 8.4 billion every year.  All at soil-scraping prices which keep its carriages within financial reach of much of the population. It is India’s veins, arteries and capillaries – and many of its vital organs too.  But it can’t exactly be described as ‘fast’.

This is my, completely unfair, image of modern Indian railways…..


This might indeed be unfair, as this streamlined DMU looks as up-market as anything in the UK.  Pity about the windscreen wiper though.


However, this could change.  There are reports that India is considering a bullet train system based on the Japanese model.  The Daily Telegraph reported that:

India is gently shuffling towards a radical rail overhaul. A feasibility study (involving Japanese expertise) is underway. And while a series of what Modi has referred to as “Diamond Quadrilateral” lines would take decades to complete, there are plans for a halfway-house “semi-high-speed” service which would be a huge improvement on the status quo. Last July, an experimental version of this compromise covered the 140 miles between New Delhi and Agra at 100mph. And there is tentative chatter about forging such a connection between Kolkata (Calcutta) and Delhi which would see trains manage the 923-mile odyssey in nine hours. The current time for this route, using the existing infrastructure, is closer to 36 hours. On average, Indian trains “move” at around 31mph…..

However, it is enormously antiquated – a very literal legacy of the Raj era in that much of it was laid down while India was under British control. Only 6,000 of those 40,000 miles of network have been built since independence in 1947. The other 85 per cent of the system is rather older.

Such an upgrade would be a gigantic task.  However, I suspect the engineering and indeed the finance is the least of it.  Google around the subject, I found that the Mumbai Mirror reported that…..

India’s first bullet train project planned between Mumbai and Ahmedabad has already been shown the red signal. The project that was planned to start from Bandra-Kurla Complex run parallel to the Western Railway all the way to Ahmedabad will face problems as the MMRDA has refused to part with its land at Bandra-Kurla Complex.”We have indeed written to the railways informing them that we will not be able to part with our land at Bandra Kurla Complex. The railways should look for some other alignment,” MMRDA’s joint project director Dilip Kawathkar said.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is on the priority list of the Modi government and has been projected as India’s first bullet train project….

Railway officials said that the project already has a back-up plan, but the issue will be discussed at the highest levels before taking a final decision as this is one of government’s flagship projects.

The UK has had enough strife getting CrossRail, through London off, or rather under, the ground.  The HST2 link to the north probably depends on the result of the coming election.  However, India has refined red tape to an art form even beyond the UK.  I wish them luck with their bullet train!

Still, Paul will be relieved – he’d have to buy a whole load more bullet train models…..

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in ESNG, Inspiration, Out and about, Prototype and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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