Business Standard

May not need foreign tech partner for future bullet train projects: Vaishnaw


There would soon come a time when high-speed rail (HSR) or bullet train projects might become fully indigenous, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday said after overseeing a triggered blast in Vikhroli here as part of the Mumbai-ahmedabad bullet train project which is expected to be completed by 2028.

The minister inspected the progress of the terminal station of the corridor at Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, which is being constructe­d with a “depth equaling 10 storeys”. The station will also have provisions for possible vertical expansion of up to 30 storeys, the minister said while blaming the Uddhav Thackeray-led previous state government for the project’s delays in Maharashtr­a.

Vikhroli would be the point of entry for a tunnel boring machine to be used for the constructi­on of a seven-km long undersea bridge for the project. The bridge will connect undergroun­d stations in Mumbai to the elevated section in Thane. The shaft at the Vikhroli site of the National High Speed Rail Corridor is one among the four to be built for the entire 21-km-long undergroun­d stretch of the project.

Responding to a question from Business Standard post the review, the minister said the Centre’s current push for self-reliance would ensure that eventual bullet train projects might not need a foreign technology partner. He did not indicate a timeframe. India does not have indigenous capabiliti­es to build HSR projects, and the Mumbai-ahmedabad HSR (MAHSR) corridor is being built in collaborat­ion with Japan, with an overseas loan from the Japan Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Agency (JICA).


ASHWINI VAISHNAW, Railway Minister

The agency is funding 81 per cent of the project, based on the initial cost estimates of ~1.08 trillion

On a question of approvals for future bullet train corridors, the minister indicated that a number of initiative­s would be taken in the direction of a developed India, but did not respond on specific such corridors.

Vaishnaw drew parallels with the semi high-speed train technology, which was indigenise­d through the Vande Bharat train, and said the time-taking process of building infrastruc­ture with foreign partners also entails a lengthy process of technology absorption, which helps to indigenise them in the coming future.

Officials, however, said it was premature to expect that corridors in the immediate future would have possibilit­ies of full indigeniza­tion. They, however, said India could definitely undertake more individual segments of newer corridors than the MAHSR corridor, where the country has only looked at the infrastruc­ture of the project.

“The technology we learn today will have a multi-faceted scope for implementa­tion later. For example, India’s ability to undertake complex Metro and RRTS (regional rapid transit system) projects has increased now. We are taking the HSR project as a technology-learning opportunit­y,” Vaishnaw said.

Officials working on the project who participat­ed in the review exercise said the cost of the project had exceeded the sanctioned amount of ~1.08 trillion, but a complete estimate could only be establishe­d once tenders for train sets and other rolling stock equipment are awarded in Japan.

Reports have pegged the current cost of the project to be upwards of ~1.7 trillion. The project has 465 km of viaduct, 10 km of bridges, and five km of mountain tunnels. The 508-km corridor is expected to bring travel time between the two cities down to under three hours, with an operationa­l speed of 320 kmph.

Senior executives of the National High Speed Rail Corporatio­n, the agency tasked with the implementa­tion of the project, said it was targeting full completion of the Mumbai-ahmedabad high-speed rail (MAHSR) corridor by 2028. The Centre’s deadline for the completion of the entire project lapsed in 2022 on account of delays in various clearances and land acquisitio­n.

The section from Thane to Vapi is seeing good progress on the elevated corridor, Vaishnaw said. Meanwhile, 284 kilometres of elevated corridor has been constructe­d and bridges have been constructe­d over eight rivers in the state, he added.

aelaborati­ng on the delay caused by the Thackeray-led previous state government, Vaishnaw said several key permission­s had been withheld before the current state government came into power. However, the Gujarat section of the corridor has also witnessed delays in the past.

 ?? PHOTO: DHRUVAKSH SAHA ?? Excavation at Bandra Kurla Complex, where the undergroun­d Mumbai station of Mumbai–ahmedabad high-speed rail is being built
PHOTO: DHRUVAKSH SAHA Excavation at Bandra Kurla Complex, where the undergroun­d Mumbai station of Mumbai–ahmedabad high-speed rail is being built
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