MBA aspirants must be updated with General Awareness on current topics. General awareness topics with analytically drawn conclusions will benefit you in Essay writing / GD & PI. Today, you will read General Awareness Topic: Need of Bullet Trains In India
This year’s railway budget also promised to run bullet trains in India as was done by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in 2007-08 budget. In 2009 also, when Mamta Banerjee was Rail Minister, Railways released a document reiterating the need for high speed rail corridors. However, the erstwhile announcements didn’t trigger the debate on use of futility of bullet trains in India as happened in Sadanand Gowda’s rail budget. It is perhaps because the resolve of current government seems more real.
In June 2012, a separate company namely High Speed Rail Corporation of India (HSRC) was formed as a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, an public sector enterprise under Ministry of Railways, to undertake bullet train project. HRSC will have a corporate structure and independence just like that of private sector bodies and multilateral agencies.
Currently, two studies are being undertaken by National Railway Company of France and Japan International Cooperation Agency respectively for the development of Mumbai-Ahmadabad High Speed Corridor. Government in this year’s budget has earmarked INR 100 crores which would primarily be spent on studies. Around 300 railway personnel will be trained on high speed technologies existing in France, Japan and Germany.
As the bullet train project has been put on the cards, it is attracting severe criticism from all sorts of quarters on several grounds. The foremost criticism against the project is the cost of project itself. Investment required for the completion of just one Mumbai Ahmadabad High Speed corridor is estimated around INR 60,000 crores while each train is likely to cost around 100 crores.
In order to make the project profitable, fares of bullet trains are likely to be exceptionally high. One way fare on Mumbai-Ahmadabad route is estimated to be around INR 5,000. Number of passengers who can afford such fares are very limited. Moreover, such passengers may prefer flight to train if they have to pay such a high fare. In that case, at the very outset, the project is likely to face losses and a loss making bullet train project would turn out to be white elephant.
Safety would be another major challenge for bullet trains. While the conventional trains which run at 120 kph are criticized for their safety standards, it would be a much bigger issue for high speed trains. Even a stray cattle on tracks can cause a severe accident to bullet train running at the speed of 350 kph.
Meanwhile, the proponents of bullet train believe that it would add symbolic and psychological value to the railways. However, bullet trains are not just required for symbolic and psychological value, but to revolutionize the transport industry of India. Along with highways, railways are analogous to the ‘veins and ‘arteries’ of human body which carries passengers and all kinds of freight to every nook and corner of the country just like veins and artery carries oxygenated blood to each and every cell of the body.
Reform of highways was started way back with National Highway Development Project (NHDP) which laid four lane highways across the length and breadth of the country. Railways in this regard are still waiting for such transformation. The average speed for our express and goods train turns out to be around 50 kph and 25 kph respectively. When the railways are entrusted with supplying critical goods like fuel, food, coal, iron and steel, cement etc, faster movement of such goods must be assured with the beginning of high speed trains.
When several countries like China, Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea have successfully started bullet trains, why can’t India which boasts of second largest network of railways in Asia, ferrying more than 20 million passengers daily. While Japan started its first high speed train in 1960s, Indian Railway made headlines in 2014 after a successful trial run of train at speed of 160 kph on Delhi Agra route.
In India, railways are considered as the most affordable mode of public transport including intra-city transport. Now it must strive to become faster mode of transport comparable to that of developed countries. No doubt, the risks involved with the project are very high, but not taking a risk itself is a huge risk putting all the potential development on stake. Whether the project is viable or not will be clear after the completion of feasibility study. Till then, any step taken for the modernization of railways must be a welcome step.