The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project (MAHSR) was announced in 2017 in the bilateral talks which took place between India and Japan earlier this year. The project involves construction of Hinakasen, colloquially referred to as a ‘Bullet train’ corridor between the city of Mumbai and Ahmedabad, cutting the travel time between the two cities and 17 smaller cities on the line, by more than half.
It (MAHSR) will cost approximately Rs.1.12 lakh crore; of which, Rs.88,000 crore will be given to India by Japan in terms of a ‘soft loan’ with a grace period of 15 years (i.e. repayment won’t start for 15 years) and the repayment will be carried out over a period of 50 years at very low interest rates of 0.1% per annum. However, the announcement of this project has attracted a lot of criticism towards it from various parts of the country. The question being raised by them is, “Whether India really needs the Bullet train?” Let us try answering this question.
As aforementioned, the Bullet Train will cut the travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by more than half of what it is currently. It will be able to go up-down the line almost 20 times in a day. This level of efficiency and capacity will take the load off the trains which run in this corridor and also the railway stations which suffer from lack of facilities due to overcrowding.
This will bring a significant impact on the lives of the people, for whom this project has been announced. This project will allow people to settle, not just in the major cities but enable them to live in the smaller cities and towns as well which are going to be connected via the MAHSR line. They can then buy houses or take houses on rent which will be far cheaper than the ones in the metropolitans and allow them to save a lot of money.
Subsequently, the chronic issue of overcrowding in the metropolitans will be solved as people will start moving away from these cities. The moving away of people may bring down the prices of houses which go on sale or rent (Demand goes down because people move away and therefore prices will go down) hence making the metropolitans more accessible.
Time is of the essence when it comes to emergencies regarding healthcare. People living in smaller towns and cities will have a more efficient connection to the world-class healthcare facilities situated in the large cities. They will also experience an improvement in their health as they will move away from the stressful and harmful environment of the large cities.
Courts (High Court in case of Mumbai and Ahmedabad) will become more accessible to people as they will be able to go back and forth between their respective cities and the cost of living in the hotel will be cut due to the short travel time. Justice will be delivered to people cheaper!
The bullet train is estimated to create almost 40,000 jobs, with just one corridor. Future corridors will bring in more jobs and it will help the Government in battling unemployment which is prevalent in the country as of this moment. The manufacturing of many components related to the Bullet train is being handed over to Indian manufacturers and hence create even more jobs for the people. Along with manufacturing, even the service sector (e.g. Transport) will gain a boost as these newly set up units will require various services to cater to their needs. This will also generate more revenue for the government (more employment; more income tax, more manufacturing and services; more tax) and hence it will allow the government to focus on other aspects of development.
Domestic and Foreign industries; both will prefer going to the smaller cities which are located and connected by the bullet train line as cost of operation will be cheaper, hence ensuring that developmental activities do not become centralized at just the large cities. The smaller cities will also get a chance to grow and develop and employment will be generated there too. Since people will be reaching their destination faster, they will be able to put more time into their work and hence will be more productive which is what companies expect of their employees.
Even the Government, in terms of Administration will benefit from the bullet train. In case of a security threat (a terrorist attack, riots etc.) additional forces can be put on the Bullet train and be despatched to the affected areas more quickly and ensure that the situation does not go out of hand and control the law and order of the area.
They will also be able to send out their officers and staff to different parts of the country (which are connected by bullet train) more efficiently and therefore be more productive. Cost of keeping the government officers in hotels and lodges will be cut since they will be able to go back to their homes on the same day itself.
The Indian railways will also experience a new era of modernisation as the Bullet train will completely change the ‘negative perception’ of the people towards the organization. The faith of the people will be restored and the railways will start moving in the right path, and i.e. towards modernity and development.
Since India is on the path towards becoming a major political power in Global politics. It is imperative that we do something that will create the perception that we indeed are a major power. The bullet train will allow for us to create that perception among the people as almost all of the developed countries of the world have bullet trains running in their country. India will be considered as a ‘developed’ or a ‘fast developing’ country.
Therefore, I believe that India could definitely use the Bullet train; it will considerably improve the lives of the people and it will also help the country to move towards modernity and set up a new image in the world.