Bullet Trains: Does India really need it?

Bullet train: Does India really need it?

Imagine traveling at a speed of 320kmph from Mumbai to Ahmedabad about 550 km (which generally takes 6 to 7 hours by Indian railways to cover). Currently, it will take only 2 hours to reach the defined destination, which will be called the fastest train in India. This ambitious venture of the Indian Railways, changing over the semi speed railroads to rapid or cutting edge developments like the incorporated chip frameworks, onboard trains alert pedestrians and redefines the way of living of Indians.

It is said that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation of several big projects, like Bhakra Nangal Dam and Baba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), to uprise the country’s technology and advancements in science and all these projects were vital for the nation. 

So, this High-Speed Railway (HSR) project would connect cities considered India’s economic hub and become a nation defining advancement which elevates the nation’s power to stand with other developed countries i.e., USA, China, Japan.

In September 2017, PM Narendra Modi and the Japanese member Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of High-Speed Railway (HSR) programs in India, popularly known as Bullet trains. The Bullet train project will cover its path from Mumbai to Ahmedabad with speed up to 320kmph, with High-speed connectivity, less stress on the Railways and will give employment to the people, with improved functions. 

pm modi meet with Japanese member Shinzo Abe

The Government of Japan will provide 81% of the wealth in the form of loan about Rs 100,000 crore at a small interest of 0.1 % over 50 years. 

Just as research, we should check the success rates of High-Speed Trains i.e., pioneer Shinkansen in Japan, TGV in France, that created a general query:

Whether HSR technologies (Bullet Train) would be affordable in India by general people?

For what reason do we need such a humongous venture when numerous other problems that are begging to be addressed need a functioning measure of assets?

Before going deeper into the concept,

Let’s know about the success rates of Bullet trains in Japan.

Japan Shinkansen or the bullet train has an enviable track record all across Japan over for 50 years and even more impressive by considering that the High-Speed Railways carries over 430,000 people weekly, and by this time Japan expanded its bullet trains lines nearly every corner of Japan.

shinkansen: bullet train

What makes Bullet train so important?

Today, Japan is one of the most powerful economic and highly developed free-market industrial countries worldwide, considered the third-largest in the world by nominal GDP and fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP).

And Japan’s idea of High-speed trains i.e., bullet train, has a significant impact on its economy and development more inclusive, distributive, and equitable. 

Key Ideas-

  • Effective Timings- The launch of Bullet trains in Japan brought down the travel timings from 6 hours to about 2 hours, carrying over 10 million passengers having extremely down mishaps and zero percent fatal.

  • Growth of Business- Bullet trains revolutionized the way of businesses. It provides an effective solution for its growth of Industries. Before the large scales industries managed to connect their works to longer-distance, now the small scales industries can also cope with the longer-distance to upgrade their business. 

  • Low cost effective – Bullet trains allowed the workers to stay at their places at a lower cost of living and work at big economic hubs and earn a better amount of money. Traveling within a short time enhanced the workers to be connected with the company for a more extended period. 

  • Boosting Tourist Places- “The purpose was to connect regional areas to Tokyo.” Bullet trains in Japan have been a boost for the tourism industry by covering long-distance with lower prices within a few hours.

According to a study done by a University of Tokyo in association with Japan’s Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry claims bullet trains has a transformative contribution to unite the industry, suppliers and its consumer for which people were benefitted. 


Apart from this, when Japan launches the Bullet train with a high objective for the inclusive development of the country, per capita GDP was 835.66 USD, then when China set the foundation stone of High-speed trains, it’s per capita GDP was 3,468.30 USD. Japan’s per capita GDP is over 36,500 USD, and China’s per capita GDP is above 9,770.85 USD.

India aims to show a green signal for the Bullet train project in 2022, in which it’s per capita GDP expected between 2,000 USD to 3,000 USD.

Given this, the bullet train project may help establish the Indian manufacturing and technological ecosystem.

According to the Government, the Mumbai- Ahmedabad bullet train project is likely to give permanent employment over more than 5,000 people and provides job opportunities to the people.

Why do we need this project?

  1. The project will create an alternative transport system over the cities.

  2. Also, High-speed Bullet trains will save time and boost big businesses in large cities.

  3. Employment will rise, which might create a helping hand in reducing the migration.

  4. Bullet trains are eco-friendly running with electricity, which checks pollution, and safety is one of the most critical factors that have zero percent fatal rates in Japan.

  5. It will help in the economic growth of the cities, considering the country’s financial hub and creating colossal development.

Why is this project considered as waste?

The construction of Mumbai- Ahmedabad high-speed railway costs around Rs 100,000 becomes a considerable amount to invest, which has accurate demerits.

Land Acquisition is one of the critical factors of its derailment; it might cause a delay in the project. The High-speed rail corridor has been able to acquire almost 60% of the land required for the project.

Apart from this concern, India may face an extreme inflation stage due to this COVID-19 pandemic, which will cause the bullet train project. 

Considering to present scenario, it may cost overruns due to delays and future fluctuations i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic created harsh inflation in which it may further increase due to this the economic growth will be down.

At present, India’s inflation rate is about 4.86% may increase due to this pandemic. If India’s average inflation rate is 4% over next two years and the japan inflation rate is nearly zero that will create a disturbance in the loan given by Japan which may increase the interest by some percent in future, for this people have to pay more fares in comparison to Airlines to travel in Bullet train.

It is estimated that the fares would at a range of Rs 4000- 5000 for its growth. But the tickets of the Airlines going through the same cities are cheaper than the high-speed rail system, and such tickets would be affordable by only upper-class people, and the rest might not use it in the future a massive disadvantage to the development.


If the Bullet train project went wrong, then what will be the significant issues?

  • Ridership- Due to massive demand, it may gain popularity all over the country, but if fares are higher than the Airlines, people will choose the cheaper one, for this HSR may face huge losses.

  • Interest and depreciation costs- High Interest and depreciation costs put pressure on the finances of the project, which later may increase.

  • Cost overrun- It could be a significant problem for India’s Bullet train because such a large construction project spread over a long period can face various challenges, which will also lead to a higher ticket price. 

The timely execution of this “Make in India “project will be valuable for the Indian people. Going forward, the Japanese company may establish setting up manufacturing facilities for bullet trains in India; this would give massive upliftment for the people to set up a new skill.

High-speed railways have various benefits, but there are several challenges attached to it too, which need to addressed by the Indian government on an urgent basis. 

Indeed, the bullet train will be useful for every state in India to build up the economy, but what is the use of it if you don’t have a satisfactory road from your home to the Railway station to catch the train. The in-build infrastructure is still in the infant state, the public transportation system is overcrowded and poorly maintained, and by this time, a large project cannot change the fate of India’s economy.

So, think before you decide. 

The high-Speed Bullet train that will use occasionally, Or

Better roads, improved railways, and sound public transportation systems, which we will use on the daily basis of our lives.


Sanket Purohit

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