Modi effect: Bullet and Maglev Trains To Zoom In India
Bullet trains will soon become a reality in India. (Photo credit: Wikimedia.org)
It was during Narendra Modi's chief ministerial tenure in Gujarat that his trips to other countries gave him the opportunity to ride on high-speed trains. Now that he is the Prime Minister, it's no surprise that he is keen on introducing bullet trains in India. His government's first Railway Budget introduced the Diamond Quadrangle Project and made it a point to start high-speed bullet train services in India.
Diamond Quadrangle Project
The Diamond Quadrilateral Project plans to connect the four major cities, i.e., Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, with high-speed bullet trains. However, the first bullet train project is set to start in Gujarat, the home state of the Prime Minister.
Some of the major proposed routes are:
Bullet trains and Maglev
The railway sector has a huge impact on the country's economy. But compared to the rail connectivity in countries like Japan and China, India lags far behind. The Prime Minister is greatly inspired by the efficiency of Japan's rail network system and he thinks it would be better if Indian railways followed a similar model.
The first Shinkansen or bullet train was inaugurated in 1964 in Japan, but the research work for it had started way back in the 1950's. During that time Japan was recuperating from the devastation of World War II and had two major problems—dense population and lack of good public transportation. Consequently, in 1957, the Japanese bullet trains changed history. Initially, a narrow gauge was in use in these trains, but after achieving a top speed of 145 km/h things changed for the trains. Engineers believed that a standard gauge could provide more stability due to its width and reduced friction and thus attain higher speeds. Thus standard gauge was incorporated. And, the first bullet train service from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka started during the Olympic games of 1964.
High-speed trains in India will cut travel time by half. (Photo credit: Wikimedia.org)
Another high speed train is called a Maglev (magnetic levitation). The first commercial Maglev system was opened in Birmingham in 1984. It uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without touching the ground. Through this, the vehicle will travel along a magnetic trail and because of the magnets, lift and propulsion is created. This reduces friction and allows more speed. Recently, a Japanese Maglev crossed the 600 km/h mark, thus becoming the fastest rail vehicle in the world.
Transrapid 09, a German Maglev. (Photo credit: Wikimedia.org)
The construction of the Shanghai Maglev costs China $1.2 billion. Understandably, the biggest challenge with the construction and setting up of Maglevs in India is its cost. Along with the cost, a large land area is required to create tunnels for Maglevs.
The Indian Railways has set up the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd., which is responsible for all high-speed rail projects in the country. The first high-speed rail line is expected to connect Ahmedabad and Mumbai. It will cover the distance of around 540 kilometers at an estimated cost of Rs. 60,000 crore. And these high-speed trains will run at 320 km/h. Talks and negotiations have already started with China on the construction of another corridor for high-speed rail line from Delhi to Chennai. This corridor would cover 1,754 kilometers, making it the world's second largest bullet train line. Although the government has been considering to set up Maglev systems, there are quite a few challenges to be overcome before it becomes a reality.
Life after bullet trains
The first bullet train in India was proposed in the mid-1980's, but the project could not take off because of the huge costs involved. But now we have finally reached the stage where the proposal for bullet train has been accepted, it might roll out soon.
Here are some ways in which bullet trains will change the present scheme of things:
- Overnight journeys would become a day's travel.
- We would be able to compete with other major economies, in terms of travel time. It will raise the value of real estate in India.
- It will reduce the time-cost, delays due to logistics and snags that are common in Indian railways.
- Weather conditions will not affect the schedules of the trains.
- Bullet trains will take the passenger load off from the already over-crowded trains.
Bullet trains will definitely contribute to the country's economy and to Indian rail network, which is one of the largest rail networks in the world. It will definitely have a positive effect on the real estate sector in India as well.