Work starts on India’s high-speed bullet train as rail network crumbles

India’s dream of enjoying the benefits of high-speed bullet transportation came one step closer to reality yesterday  when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe  laid the foundation stone for the first shinkansen-style line that will run between Mumbai and the Gujarati capital Ahmedabad. The line, that will cut the  journey time between the two cities from eight to two hours, will cost $16.8bn to build, 81% of which will be financed by soft loans from Japan.
“It’s a historic day today, with a new chapter beginning in the relationship between the two countries,” Abe said at the ceremony. “A strong India is in Japan’s interest, and a strong Japan is in India’s interest,” Abe said. Japan was committed to supporting Modi’s Make in India a campaign designed to turn the country into a manufacturing hub, he added.
The project would “launch a revolution in Indian railways” and “become an engine of economic transformation”, Modi said, although critics are questioning if building a bullet train was necessarily the right way to set such a revolution in place given the  country’s vastly outdated and crumbling transport infrastructure.
One of the world’s busiest networks, India’s railways carry some 23 million passengers each day along  poorly maintained, inefficient and downright unsafe infrastructure that causes thousands of deaths each year.
Modi recently replaced his railway minister after a series of derailments, including one last month in which at least 23 people lost their lives in northern Uttar Pradesh state. Nearly 150 more died in a similar accident in November last year and there are an estimated 15,000 casualties on India’s railways each year.

Source: intoday