Friday, December 11, 2015

What else but a white elephant?

The cost of connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad will be Rs 98,000 crore. Really? Am I reading this right? Someone is looking to splurge Rs 98,000Cr on 500KM out of Indian Railways' network of 115,000 KM? The same rulers who are hesitating to buy the seven squadrons of MMRCA that the Indian Air Force asked for?

In 2011, the Indian Railways decided against this outrageously costly project and opted for a much more viable alternative:


"We believe semi-high speed rail corridors are a better option compared to the more ambitious highspeed and bullet train proposals which are outrageously costly, and will take far longer to build".

Here is a good analysis on this issue: Nowhere in the world do bullet trains make money:

Laying a bullet-train corridor can cost up to Rs 100 crore a kilometre. With signals, rolling stock, etc, the cost can rise up to Rs 115 crore a km. A 500-km line, like the first one proposed between Gandhinagar and Mumbai, will set the government back by over Rs 55,000 crore.


7 comments:

san said...


Yup, we've definitely talked about this before - Modi's bullet train mania is like India Shining 2.0 - it will deliver very little while spending obscene amounts.

http://rajeev2004.blogspot.ca/2014/06/bullet-trains-and-white-elephants.html

As you say, we could have gone for the moderately higher speed trains rather than these extremely expensive bullet trains. Besides, in 20 years time maybe Elon Musk's hyperloop technology will make all these bullet trains obsolete at much lower cost.

karyakarta92 said...

While I agree that Modi Sarkar is looking like India Shining 2.0 etc, I believe Rs. 100 Crore per kilometer is not too big a price to pay - for something that can be a game changer, something that lifts national pride. India needs such projects now to change the people's mentality of looking down at brand India and perennially associate it with poverty porn. India's image needs to be enhanced. We need projects like the Hoover dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, the interstate freeway system that made America dream big. China has done this successfully with its massive dams, amazing railways, skyscrapers and highway system. As a proud Hindu NRI, it always hurts deeply when India is contemptuously associated with filth, poverty, open defaecation etc. Rs. 100 Crore per kilometer is not too high a price to pay in order to change this perception once and for all. Let's build a bullet train from Mumbai to Delhi, Delhi to Calcutta, etc. Rise India, Rise!

Raghu said...

It is reported that Japan will provide the financing for the loan period of 50 years with minimal interest. Shouldn't India go ahead if that is the case?

san said...

Yeah, I was thinking about that too - I think we should have tried to cajole the Japanese into favorable financing for stuff other than bullet trains. It's not like the ordinary Indian masses will be able to travel on such trains, which are only competitive with domestic aviation.

Pagan said...

The fact that over 99% of Indian Railways passengers won't get to use this (and many cannot afford it) can make it India-Shining 2.0, more magnified than the first one.

Friend just returned from Gujarat... says BJP can no longer take even Gujarat for granted. Any potential problems with land-acquisition will be turned into a national issue, like the Tata Nano project in Singur, WB. I am sure the anti-BJP forces will use this issue to the hilt in UP and elsewhere.

san said...

BJP should concentrate on decentralizing power to the states, so that the bastions of competence can be free to pursue competence, while the bastions of retards can be free to pursue retardedness. A more organic approach would be to allow like-minded bastions of competence to then be linked together with better infrastructure, while the bastions of retardedness can wallow in the misery of their own making. As things stand right now, if these bullet trains are built, people will steal the magnets right off the maglev lines.

Sujeev said...

Yup, that's right. Equipment could be stolen right from day one from this project.

A better legacy for NAMO would've been to spend the one lakh crore rupees in rebuilding The Ramar Sethu, and integrating Sri Lanka more tightly into the Indian mulieu.

Would've entered Hindu lore as having done one better than Lord Rama.

Rama built the Sethu for war. NAMO would be rebuilding it for Peace,Prosperity & Security.

What a narrative that would make! What a legacy for NAMO to leave behind for future generations of Hindus/Buddhists!