India's first bullet train section to complete in 2026, says railway ministertext_fields
New Delhi: Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw unveiled plans for the country's inaugural bullet train section, estimating its completion by August 2026.
This significant development involves a 50-kilometre stretch connecting Bilimora and Surat in Gujarat, forming part of India's ambitious bullet train project.
Vaishnaw's announcement also encompassed several strategies to modernise the nation's rail network and services, including technological advancements like the Kavach system to prevent on-track collisions, notably crucial after a tragic accident in Odisha's Balasore.
The minister updated on the Gajraj system, designed to prevent train-elephant collisions, and emphasised the expansion of railway tracks for enhanced connectivity across different regions of India.
Vaishnaw highlighted the surge in new train services, citing an increase from 1,768 to 2,124 mail/express services and from 5,626 to 5,774 suburban services compared to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, passenger trains saw a rise from 2,792 to 2,856 during the same period.
Reflecting on passenger volume, Indian Railways served 640 crore passengers in 2022/23, targeting an ambitious 750 crore for the fiscal year 2023/24.
Regarding the bullet train initiative, Vaishnaw's recent statement followed his previous update on the substantial progress made in the larger Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, indicating the completion of significant viaducts and pier work. The 100 km of viaducts and 230 km of pier work accomplished were part of this substantial high-speed rail corridor, which includes the Bilimora-Surat section.
Viaducts, integral structures for railways or roads passing over valleys or gorges, were showcased in a video shared by Vaishnaw on social media, exhibiting completed viaducts in various districts of Gujarat.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor's advancement has been consistent since its commencement in November 2021, with rapid construction milestones achieved. Notably, the initial kilometre of the viaduct was completed within six months, reaching the 50-kilometre mark by April this year.
The project involves constructing bridges over several rivers, including the Par, Auranga, Purna, Mindhola, Ambika, and Venganiya, as part of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor. National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) shared drone footage showcasing these bridges' construction progress, signalling significant momentum for the high-speed rail project.
With an estimated cost of Rs 1.08 lakh crore, the funding structure involves contributions from the central government, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, along with a loan from Japan at a minimal 0.1% interest rate, reinforcing the commitment towards India's ambitious bullet train network.