The proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train service would be available every 20 minutes from the originating station at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai, Achal Khare, the Managing Director of the National High Speed Railway Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), said on Sunday.
While three train services will run during peak hours, two train services would operate during non-peak hours. The bullet train that would run at a speed of 320 kmph is expected to travel from Mumbai to Ahmedabad within two hours. At present, it takes seven hours by train and an hour by flight.
According to senior railway officials, the segment continues to remain in high demand with the Western Railway operating at least 20 trains daily. Every day as many as 10 flights are planned between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to cater to the passenger demand.
“There would be 35 pairs of bullet train services, which means the trains will make 70 trips in a day between the two cities. During the peak hour (7am to 10 am in the morning and 5pm to 9 pm in evening) we plan to run services of three trains, and two trains during off-peak hours between the cities. This would be on a daily basis,” Khare said.
There are 12 stations on the bullet train route —- BKC, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Baroda, Anand, Sabarmati and Ahmedabad. The NHSRCL would run both fast trains that would halt at Mumbai, Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad and slow trains which would stop at all 12 stations.
“We are in the process to buy 24 bullet train rakes of E-5 series running on Shinkansen technology from the Japanese government. To ensure there are enough train rakes, we would keep 20 trains in operation and the rest on standby for emergencies. This would ensure a free flow of services on the route,” Khare added.
The Mumbai to Ahmedabad sees passenger traffic mainly has entrepreneurs and textile and diamond merchants. The number of annual passengers on the route is expected to increase to 3 lakh from 1.5 lakh people at present. Khare said the bullet train would also attract air travellers who spend roughly three hours on average to travel to and from the airport in addition to flight time.
“According to our study, there are as many as 4,700 passengers who travel daily by flights between Mumbai and Amhedabad. While 5,000 passengers take trains every day, around 15,000 people use cars to commute. We plan to carry at least 40,000 passengers on a daily basis between the two cities once the bullet train is in operation,” Khare added.
While the bullet train would have ten coaches consisting of one executive coach and nine general coaches by 2023, the total number of coaches would increase to 15 by 2033 to handle additional passenger traffic. There would be 750 seats in a ten-coach train and 1,250 seats in a fifteen-coach train.
“There would be both general and reserved coaches on the train that would allow passengers to travel unreserved. Baggage checking facility would be available at stations which would not take much time. While passenger luggage would be parked in the luggage carrying space near the coach, small bags and handbags could be kept in overhead compartments,” Khare added.
For the first time, an Indian train will have washrooms for men and women. The bullet train would have seven toilets for men and women and an exclusive women’s toilet. Folding beds, rotating chairs would be among the other features.
The Maharashtra Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Railways for handing over land for the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) station building in February. “This station will be underground at about 25-metre depth and will be integrated with International Finance service Center (IFSC) building proposed above it. We plan to star work on constructing the Bandra Kurla Complex Terminus (BKC) by the end of this year. Trials of the coaches would begin by 2021 on the route.The train would be run by one driver and we would have conductors to check tickets of passengers. There would be on board signalling system for drivers,” Khare added.
Railways open to standing users on bullet train
The big-ticket bullet train project could have a flavour of Mumbai’s local trains – standing users – if the high-speed corridor sees heavy demand. The new-age transit system will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad and is expected to be operational by 2022.
The National High Speed Rail Corporation, the implementing authority, said on Sunday that it was open to the idea of letting more travellers beyond the train’s seating capacity. “If the people are ready then we will allow standees inside the bullet train,” said Achal Khare, Managing Director of NHSRCL.
This means passengers wishing to cut travel time on the 508-km route will be able to hop on the 10-car train for short journeys without worrying much about having a confirmed ticket. The new-age services will cover the entire stretch between 1 hour 55 minutes and two-and-half hours and will have 12 stations, including BKC, Surat Vadodara, and Sabarmati.
“We will have to run trials for at least 10,000 km before putting it on for public use and so the first train has to come by 2021,” said Khare. The NHSRCL may also go for monthly passes if there is a demand for it.
Equipped with a state-of-the art technology from Japan, officials say, the ride on the bullet train will be a lot smoother even if for those standing. It won’t wobble sideways, like the local trains do, despite moving at over 300 km per hour, said a senior NHSRCL official.
The 10-car train will have a capacity of 750 passengers and can accommodate as many standees. By 2033, authorities plan to add six cars to increase the seats to 1250. The fares will, however, be same for all on board. The proposed fare from BKC to Thane fare is Rs 250, it’s Rs 500 for BKC-Virar, and Rs 750 on BKC-Boisar.
Of the 10 cars, there will be one business class and the rest will be general compartments. On the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, they expect 40000 passengers every day to use this bullet train. Off these, they expect 14000 people using their private vehicles and taxis to shift to the bullet train, 6500 passengers of airlines and rest from other long distance trains.
The work on first rail station for the bullet train will begin from November at BKC. The NHSRCL has begun the process of land acquisition. There are 108 villages where land will be acquired from nearly 10,000 people. Khare said, “We plan to acquire entire 1415 hectares of land by December 18. We are looking at compensation to the tune of Rs 10000 crore.”