Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor

Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor is an under-construction high-speed rail line connecting India's economic hub Mumbai with the city of Ahmedabad. When completed, it will be India's first high-speed rail line.[2]

Mumbai–Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor
NHSRCL.jpg
Overview
StatusUnder Construction
OwnerIndian Railways
Locale
TerminiMumbai
Ahmedabad
Stations12
Websitewww.nhsrcl.in
Service
TypeHigh-speed rail
Operator(s)National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited
Rolling stockE5 Series Shinkansen
History
Planned openingDecember 2028; 7 years' time (2028-12)
Technical
Line length508.18 km (315.77 mi)
CharacterElevated, underground, undersea and grade-separated
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV AC, 50 Hz, overhead catenary
Operating speed320[1] km/h (200 mph)

Construction was expected to begin by April 2020,[3] and the project was expected to be completed by December 2023.[4][5] Due to delays acquiring land, the completion date has been pushed back to December 2028.[6]

As of July 2020, 60% of required land has been acquired and the rest is "almost on the verge of completion", civil works tenders covering 68% corridor (345 km out of 508 km, of 245 km 77% land in Gujarat, 80% in Dadra & Nagar Haveli and 22% in Maharashtra) and a separate tender for 28 steel bridges have been allocated, remaining tendering process is under way.[7]

HistoryEdit

ConceptionEdit

The Mumbai–Ahmedabad corridor, along with 5 other high-speed rail corridors, was introduced for a feasibility study in the 2009–2010 Rail Budget. A 650 km-long high-speed rail corridor was proposed to run from Pune to Ahmedabad via Mumbai. The point at which this route would touch Mumbai was to be decided when the feasibility report was prepared. The pre-feasibility study for the Ahmedabad–Mumbai–Pune corridor was completed by a consortium of RITES, Italferr and Systra.[8] The top speed expected for the corridor was set up to 350 km/h.[9] The proposed stations included Lonavala on Mumbai–Pune section and Surat, Bharuch and Vadodara on Mumbai–Ahmedabad section. It was proposed to have 32 services between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Railway officials also proposed extending the corridor up to Bangalore.[10]

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in New Delhi on 14 February 2013 between the Ministry of Railways and the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF), the French national railways, for technical cooperation in the field of railways. The parties agreed to carry out jointly an "operations and development" feasibility project on the Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor. The project was funded by the SNCF with support from the French Ministry of Finance.[11] In March 2013, the Railway Board decided to drop the Mumbai–Pune section and operate the high-speed rail service only between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The Board took the decision due to financial constraints, as the ghat section between Pune and Mumbai would escalate the budget for the project. According to Vidyadhar A. Malegaonkar, Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO), Western Railway, "It's basically a Western Railway project and very little portion of Maharashtra was being covered under it. Hence, the Maharashtra government was showing little interest in the project and was also reluctant to bear a financial burden. That is the reason why the Railway Board has decided against including the Pune–Mumbai portion in the high-speed corridor".[12]

India and Japan signed a MoU to undertake a joint feasibility study of the Mumbai–Ahmedabad route in New Delhi in September 2013.[13] This was in pursuance of the Joint Statement between the then-Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe on 29 May 2013, which provided that the two sides would co-finance a joint feasibility study of the route. The objective of the joint study was to prepare a feasibility report of the system with a speed of 300–350 km/h. The cost of the study (¥500 million)[14] was borne equally by India and Japan. The study was scheduled to be completed within 18 months from its commencement, i.e. by July 2015. The study carried out traffic forecasting, alignment surveys and undertook a comparative Study of high-speed railway technology and systems.[11][15]

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the SNCF carried out studies on the project. JICA researched the technology, alignment and traffic-related aspects, while SNCF worked on business projections.[11][16] The feasibility study included an alignment survey concerning aspects such as land acquisition, environmental challenges and building of tunnels and bridges. It also suggested a financial model based on fare and non-fare box revenue.[17]

PlanningEdit

JICA officials visited Mumbai in January 2014 to discuss the details of the project, and made selective site visits to the proposed route. On 21 January, following several meetings between JICA and Indian Railways officials, it was proposed to originate the corridor at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai. The proposed route would begin from BKC, go right up to Thane on the Central Line, and then take a diversion on the Trans-Harbour route which is on the Thane-Diva-Vasai-Virar stretch. The corridor would then switch over to the Western Line, before entering Gujarat and terminating at Ahmedabad.[18] 12 stations were proposed on the route, of which 8 would have been in Gujarat. The intention behind taking the route via Thane is to keep the option open to link the corridor to Pune. The team also proposed other options for originating the line at either Bandra Terminus or Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, if the BKC option was unfeasible.[17] Air-conditioned bullet trains are expected to operate in the corridor at speeds of 320 km/h, enabling commuters to traverse the 534 km distance in 2 hours. Currently, the fastest train operating on this sector is the Ahmedabad Duronto Express, which takes Six and Quarter hours to reach Mumbai Central from Ahmedabad running non-stop between these two cities at a maximum speed of 130 km/h.[17]

The project held its first full-fledged meeting at the Railway Ministry in the first week of April 2014, to bring about a broad consensus on the project, especially between the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments, and the JICA, and Railway Board officials. At the meeting, officials agreed to begin the line from BKC, and then take it to Thane and onward to Virar. The Maharashtra government was in favour of connecting the line with Belapur as well, in order to bring high-speed rail to Navi Mumbai. However, railway officials were opposed to the Belapur detour. Officials also discussed the need to ensure that the terminal at BKC would be connected to Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro, enabling commuters from South Mumbai to reach BKC.

In May 2014, the project was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with the chairman of the High Speed Rail Corporation of India.[19] The feasibility study on the project was carried out by RITES, Italferr and Systra in July 2015.[20] On 20 July 2015, a joint Japanese-Indian survey team recommended a Shinkansen-style system for the Mumbai–Ahmedabad line, including the adoption of Automatic train control and dedicated tracks.[21] JICA's report recommended constructing 63.3% of the route an embankment slightly above the ground, 28.3% on stilts, 5.8% underground and 2.2% on bridges. Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain informed Parliament on 15 March 2017 that under a new plan the entire corridor would be elevated except for the tracks that were proposed to be built underground.[22]

The Ministry of Railways, based on the recommendation of the NITI Aayog, announced that Shinkansen technology would be adopted for the line, with technology transfer to support the Make in India programme. Japan would also provide staff training.[23] In January 2016, the Ministry of Railways fast tracked the project and set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited to build and operate the corridor. The company was registered in January 2016 in the name of Indian Railways. It was planned for the company to eventually be made into a joint venture with equity participation of the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments. The Public sector company is expected to build and also carry out train operations.[24][25] The Ministry of Railways, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC)[26] and JICA signed an tripartite consultancy agreement in December 2016 to implement the project. The NHSRC[26] is a new agency floated to implement the project. A joint venture between Japan International Consultants for Transportation Co (JIC), Nippon Koei Co, and Oriental Consultants Global Co. Ltd. was appointed as the general consultants for the project,[27] and prepared design documents, bidding documents and technical standards and specifications for the project.[22]

In late 2016, JICA awarded the detailed design study for the project to a consortium led by Japan International Consultants for Transportation (JIC), Nippon Koei India Pvt. Ltd and Oriental Consultants. The study formally began in March 2017. JIC will forecast demand, set fares and devise a train operation plan, handle preliminary design work for structures such as tunnels and bridges, and draw up an overall construction schedule. Japan International Consultants for Transportation (JIC) Project Manager stated that "conditions surrounding the construction of a high-speed railway in India – such as weather, which is harsh there, and the quality and standards of materials – are considerably different from those in Japan. So we are now comparing and adjusting to these technical matters." Japanese public and private sector companies conducted training programs for railway staff in India. JIC stated that the local expertise in India gained from constructing and operating various rapid transit systems could be utilized for the high speed rail project. Japan also provided training to Indian Railway Ministry officials, some of whom studied in government-sponsored programs at graduate schools in Japan. India and Japan signed an agreement to establish an HSR Training Institute in India by 2020 to train railway staff in high speed rail operations.[28]

The project received clearance from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in January 2019 to carry out construction in and around wildlife areas. The Board required the NHSRC to create safe passages for animals to pass through before beginning construction, and to erect noise barriers and fencing to prevent any disturbance to wildlife during construction.[29]

The project received conditional clearance to cut down 53,467 mangrove trees spread over an area of 13.36 hectares[30] from the expert appraisal committee (EAC) on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) projects of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on 18 March 2019. The Ministry required the NHSRCL to obtain approval from the Bombay High Court and clearance from the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority. The NHSCRL is also required to conduct a study on the impact of the vibrations from the trains on the birds and mudflats in the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary.[31] The NHSRCL approached the Bombay High Court for approval on 8 April 2019.[32] The NHSRCL announced in June 2019 that it had altered the proposed design of Thane station which would save 21,000 mangrove trees. As a result, only 32,044 mangroves are affected by the project.[33]

DesignEdit

The design for the bridges, viaducts and tunnels was made by engineers based in Delhi, Mumbai and Japan.[34] The corridor is 508.09 km long and traverses the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat and the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The alignment comprises 460.3 km of viaducts (90.6% of route length), 25.87 km of tunnels (5.1%), 12.9 km of cut and fill (2.5%) and 9.22 km of bridges (1.8%).[35] A 21 km tunnel connects Thane and Virar, of which 7 km will be undersea.[36] The undersea tunnel was chosen to avoid damaging the thick vegetation present in the area.[37] The corridor will begin at the underground station in the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, and then traverse 21 km underground before emerging above ground at Thane.[38]

CostEdit

The project is estimated to cost 1.1 lakh crore (US$15 billion),[39] including the cost of 24 trainsets, interest during construction and import duties.[40] JICA agreed to fund 81% of the total project cost 88,087 crore (US$12 billion), through a 50-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1% with a moratorium on repayments up to 15 years[41] and the remaining cost will be borne by the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.[42][43] 20% of the components used on the corridor will be supplied by Japan, and manufactured in India.[44]

Most of the line will be constructed on an elevated corridor to avoid land acquisitions and the need to build underpasses. It will also enhance safety by eliminating the need for level crossings.[45] The decision to construct an elevated line raised the cost for the project by an additional 10,000 crore (US$1.4 billion).[46]

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal informed Parliament that 3,226.8 crore (US$450 million) had been spent on the project as of June 2019.[47]

Land acquisitionEdit

Survey work on the route began in January 2017. According to NHSRC[26] director Mukul Saran Mathur, "The geo-technical surveys have started along the entire route between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and is expected to take two to three months. The activities that have begun include geo-technical and geo-physical investigations into the 21-kilometre, under-water tunnel of the project as well as the Final Location Survey to mark the alignment, right down to the pillars on which the high speed trains will run."[48] RITES identified 750 locations along the entire route to carry out soil testing, including 62 locations for the underground section. The agency completed soil testing at a total of 250 locations by 24 February.[49] Officials carried out testing of soil and rocks at a depth of 70 metres underwater for the undersea tunnel stretch.[37]

Railway officials utilized a helicopter mounted with a 100-megapixel high-resolution digital camera, a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanner, a data recorder and other equipment to carry out the survey. This aerial-survey method provides accurate data about land contours, buildings and vegetation, and will permit the survey work to be completed within 9–10 weeks as opposed to the 6–8 months required for a regular survey. The helicopter completed its survey of the entire route within a flying time of 30 hours, and the rest of the time is required for data processing.[36][50] The aerial survey was completed by JICA and the Indian Railways by the end of February 2017.[51] Railway Ministry officials stated in April 2017 that final location surveys had been completed, and that consultants to carry out environmental and social impact studies would be appointed within a few months.[52]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for the project in Ahmedabad on 14 September 2017.[53] All geo-technical surveys and tests under the sea bed for the underground section were completed by December 2017. Civil construction of the corridor was expected to begin by June 2018,[54] and the project was scheduled to be completed in 2023. The deadline was advanced to have the bullet train go on its first run on 15 August 2022 on the occasion of India's 75th Independence day. However, surveys and land acquisition for the project faced delays and disruptions due to protests by farmers, land owners, and members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena party, which opposes the bullet train project.[55][56] The deadline to complete land acquisition was postponed from December 2018 to December 2019 as a result of the protests.[57] Railway Minister Piyush Goyal stated in July 2019 that the project was expected to be completed by December 2023.[58]

A total of 1,434.4 hectares of land will be required for the project including private, government, forest and railway land. The Railway Ministry stated that it had only been able to acquire 21.02 hectares or about 1.46% of the total land required for the project as of 18 December 2018.[59] NHSRC officials stated on 16 January 2019 that they had received the consent for land acquisition from 61 out of the 104 villages in Maharashtra that were located along the proposed route.[60] Officials in Gujarat stated that land acquisition was expected to be completed only by the end of 2019.[61] As of May 2019, 60% of land acquisition in Gujarat was completed.[62]

A report by news agency IANS quoted an unnamed NHSRC official as stating that 39% of the total land acquisition had been completed as of June 2019. The official stated that 471 of 940 hectares of land was acquired in Gujarat and 66 of 431 hectares in Maharashtra.[63][64] In August 2019, Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi informed Parliament that 297 villages were located along the proposed route in Gujarat and 97% of land owners in the state had consented to land acquisition but the government was still facing challenges acquiring land in certain pockets of Maharashtra.[65] NHSRC Managing Director Achal Khare stated that 45% of total land acquisition for the project was complete as of September 2019.[66] The Gujarat High Court dismissed a batch of petitions filed by farmers challenging the acquisition of their lands for the project later in the same month.[67][68]

On 29 January 2020, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav stated that 47% of the total land required for the project had been acquired.[69] Maharashtra had only acquired 101.04 hectares out of the total 432 hectares required for the project, with no land having been acquired in Mumbai as of February 2021. Gujarat had completed 94% of total land acquisition (901.86 of 956.15 hectares). Railway Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the project would not be completed by 2023 due to land acquisition delays in Maharashtra. He also confirmed that the Railways would proceed with the tendering process in Gujarat as the stated had acquired 94% of required land.[70]

ConstructionEdit

The NHSCRL has divided the total construction work for the project into 27 packages for which it will award contracts separately.[66] The NHSCRL floated tenders for the construction of the undersea tunnel on 23 April 2019.[71] A tender for works between Vadodara and Ahmedabad was floated in August 2019.[72]

Infrastructure and operationsEdit

Indian Railways proposes to operate two types of services on the corridor. A "Rapid Train" or express service with only two stops at Surat and Vadodara, and a slower service that stops at all stations. The "Rapid Train" would complete the journey in 2 hours and 7 minutes, while the slower service would take 2 hours and 58 minutes. In total, 70 daily services will be operated on the line, or 35 services in each direction with 3 services per hour during peak hours and 2 services per hour during off-peak hours. The Railways estimates that the high speed rail corridor will have a daily ridership of around 36,000 in 2023.[73] Trains will operate between 6 AM and midnight.[74] Currently, a train journey from Mumbai to Ahmedabad takes 7 hours.[75]

On 9 January 2017 at Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the Gujarat Government and the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRC) signed an MoU worth 67,000 crore (US$9.4 billion) for component manufacturing for the high speed rail corridor.[76] The Gujarat Government will bear 25% of the total project cost and provide land for the project.[77]

Rolling stockEdit

Twenty-four red E5 Series Shinkansen trainsets will be procured to operate on the corridor,[78] of which 6 are to be assembled in India.[79] The trains will be modified to operate under Indian weather. Trains in Japan can withstand temperatures of up to 35 degrees celsius but the Indian trains will be able to operate at temperatures exceeding 50 degrees celsius; this can be achieved with the use of special cooling systems and air conditioners. Fine mesh dust filters will be fitted on air conditioners, blowers, and other important equipment on the Indian high speed trains to keep dust out. Another modification is the provision of extra space to store heavy luggage by removing a few seats from the last coach of each train.[80]

Trains are proposed to have a length of between 10 and 16 coaches. Each train will have a passenger capacity of between 1,300 and 1,600 passengers. The system will be designed to operate trains at a maximum speed of 350 kilometres per hour (220 mph), while the operational speed would be 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph).[81] Trains will be equipped with multi-purpose rooms that contain foldable beds for feeding mothers and patients, and the rooms will also be fitted with mirrors and baggage racks.[82]

Signaling and powerEdit

Signaling equipment and power systems for the corridor will be imported from Japan, per the terms of the loan agreement with JICA.[83]

The NHSRCL estimated that the corridor would consume around 1,100 million units of electricity annually once operational. Consumption was expected to rise in 2033, when additional services are planned to be introduced. A total of 29 substations will supply electricity to the corridor. The NHSRCL finalized the locations for the substations by January 2018, and approached power utility companies in Gujarat and Maharashtra to conduct joint surveys which were completed by April 2018.[84] The NHSRCL acquired 39,540 square feet of land from the Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company at Vikhroli in May 2018 to construct the ventilation shaft and distribution and traction sub-stations for the corridor.[85][86]

Solar panels installed at the Sabarmati and Thane stations, at the High-Speed Rail Training Institute in Vadodara, and at the Sabarmati HSR Complex will generate solar power.[84]

OperatorEdit

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) was registered under the Companies Act, 2013 on 12 February 2016.[87][88] The NHSRC is a special purpose vehicle responsible for the implementation of the Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail project. In October 2016, the Indian Railways invited applications to fill key positions in the NHSRC.[89]

FaresEdit

The detailed project report proposed fares that would be 1.5 times that of a First-Class AC ticket on the Mumbai–Ahmedabad Duronto Express.[90] In September 2019, the NHSRCL stated that the end-to-end fare on the corridor was expected to be 3,000 (US$42),[66] and the minimum fare would be 250 (US$3.50).[3]

Trains will have business and standard sections with 2x2 and 2x3 seating configuration respectively.[73] Unlike Japanese Shinkansen coaches, the last coach on Indian trains will have a few seats removed to make space to store check-in luggage. NHSRC Managing Director Achal Khare stated that Japanese passengers typically travel light but the modification was made to accommodate Indian passengers. The coaches have sufficient overhead space for hand baggage but not for heavy luggage. The NHSRC stated that it would charge passengers an additional fee for check-in luggage in order to discourage travellers from bringing too many pieces of heavy luggage. Passengers who travel with check-in luggage would be seated in the same coach in which check-in luggage is stored.[91]

DepotsEdit

The corridor uses three depots at Sabarmati and Surat in Gujarat and Thane in Maharashtra. The depots were designed based on the operations at Japan's Sendai and Kanazawa depots for Shinkansen. The Sabarmati depot is spread over an area of 80 hectares and serves as the main depot for the line. It also houses the operation control centre for the corridor. The Thane depot is spread over an area of 60 hectares. The Sabarmati and Thane depots contain washing plants, inspection bays, sheds, workshops, and stabling lines for regular maintenance of trains. The Surat depot is the smallest with an area of 44 hectares. It contains basic facilities for train maintenance.[92]

All depots contain reservoirs for rain water harvesting and collected water is passed through treatment plants within the depot before being re-used for washing trainsets. Depots also have recharge pits for recharging water back into the earth. The Thane and Surat depots are also capable of recycling and re-using effluent and sewage water. Bio-waste from the trains is stored in tanks onboard and removed at depots, where it is then treated in sewage treatment plants.[92]

StationsEdit

Mumbai–Ahmedabad
high-speed rail corridor
Mumbai BKC Station
Thane
Thane Depot and Workshop
Towards Pune
21 Km undersea tunnel
Virar
Maintenance Depot
Boisar
MaharashtraGujarat border
Vapi
Maintenance Depot
Bilimora
Surat
Surat Depot
Bharuch
Maintenance Depot
Vadodara
Anand/Nadiad
Ahmedabad Depot
Ahmedabad
Sabarmati Junction railway station
Route on OpenStreetMap

The line will have 12 stations.[93] Proposed stations are Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand/Nadiad, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.[94] High speed rail stations will be constructed either above or next to existing railway stations to provide transfer with the Indian Railways network. The Director of the Railway Bureau of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism stated that "this makes construction extremely difficult".[28][95]

Mumbai terminalEdit

The Indian Railways proposed constructing the proposed terminus at BKC as a three-storey underground station. However, the Maharashtra state government planned to construct the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at BKC on the same plot. JICA's report had cited the BKC plot as the most suitable location to build the Mumbai terminus.[96] In February 2016, the Railways and the state government came to an agreement to construct both projects at the BKC.[97] However, in April 2016, the state government refused to permit construction of the underground station at BKC, citing the lack of availability of land in the area for an underground station after the completion of the proposed IFSC and its multi-level underground car park. The state government also stated that IFSC would begin generating revenue for the government shortly, while the rail corridor was only expected to be completed by 2023. It instead suggested relocating the proposed BKC terminus to either Matunga or Kanjurmarg.[98] The issue was resolved in January 2017, when the Maharashtra Government and the MMRDA agreed to provide 5.4 hectares of land in BKC to construct a terminus.[99][100] Lines 2 and 3 of the Mumbai Metro will meet the HSR at BKC.[101]

VadodaraEdit

Platform 6 of the Vadodara Junction will be used as the platform for the bullet train. The NHSRCL will revamp the existing station to accommodate high-speed rail services. This will involve the removal of the reservation center, section engineering office, water tank and railway police station located on the existing platform. The new station building will have a height of 20–22 meters, and will be 40 meters in width. The design of the station is inspired by the banyan tree. The project requires the dismantling of platform 7. The largest girder on the high-speed rail corridor, measuring 220 metres in length, will be located at Vadodara station. The construction of the girder will require the dismantling of platform 7 of Vadodara Junction station which is used by trains arriving from Delhi.[102] To cope with the loss of the platform, the NHRSCL will build a new Chhayapuri as a satellite station.[103]

Ahmedabad TerminalEdit

The Sabarmati station will serve as the high-speed rail terminal in Ahmedabad.[94] A new high speed rail terminal will be built on the eastern side of the station above the existing platforms 10, 11 and 12.[74] The Ahmedabad Metro will connect the HSR at Ahmedabad Junction (Kalupur station).[citation needed]

Status updatesEdit

  • Oct 2020: Contract signed for 47% of the total length of the project. The contract awarded lies in the state of Gujarat.[104]
  • Nov 2020: Contract awarded for further stretch of 88 km taking the total to 64% of the total length of 508 km.[105]
  • Feb 2021: L&T Begins Pier Work for Mumbai – Ahmedabad Bullet Train.[106]
  • May 2021: L&T started pouring concrete to cast the first pier of Mumbai – Ahmedabad Bullet Train..[107]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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