In a move that could reduce costs and quicken construction of the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, the road transport and highways ministry offered right of way to the railways to build part of the project alongside the upcoming 380-km Vadodara-Mumbai expressway.
The road ministry has already acquired almost 3,200 hectares of land for the expressway and has offered right of way to the Indian Railways along the entire corridor between Vadodara and Mumbai for the bullet train project. Vadodara is 110 km from Ahmedabad and is a major trade centre along with Surat on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor.
“The total project cost of the expressway is around Rs 40,000 crore and majority of it consists of the land value that we have acquired between the two cities for constructing the six-lane highway. The alignment of both rail and road corridor is almost the same between Mumbai and Vadodara,” a government official said.
The Indian Railways is yet to acquire land for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore bullet train project. The government aims to complete the Japanese International Cooperation Agency funded project by August 2022.
According to the official, the move could save Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,000 crore for both the road and railway ministries and save the railways the task of acquiring land for the 380-km route. The total length of the bullet train project is 508 km. If the bullet train is aligned with the expressway, the railways would only need to acquire land between Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
“The right of way offered to railways could remove all land acquisition hassles for the national transporter along with reducing the cost of acquisition, especially in parts of Maharashtra such as Thane and other nearby Mumbai cities where land acquisition is nearly impossible now,” the official added.
The road ministry is of the view that a rail-and-road corridor would be complementary, with bullet train carrying only passengers and the expressway used mostly for freight and by short-distance travellers.
A top railway ministry official said the proposal is being considered by the Railway Board. The bullet train project, launched in September by PM Narendra Modi and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, will cut travel time between the two cities to less than three hours.