Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Ahmadabad-Mumbai bullet train during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe in India. The first high speed train will cover a 508 km stretch which will be completed by 2022. The deal was signed on December 12, 2015 between India and Japan. The estimated amount is of ₹ 1,10,000 crore where Japan will fund 81% of the project which is nearly ₹ 88000 crore in soft loan at an interest rate of 0.1%. The loan will have to be repaid over 50 years that is topped with a 15-year grace period.
Now coming to the point of why I am writing this is – please think about the fact if we’re even ready for a bullet train. In almost a month, there have been 9 derailments. More than 33,700 people died in train related accidents in 2015. We should focus on our own system and improve safety features. We should focus on modernising the Indian railways and bring new technology. For instance, railways should provide WiFi in all trains as it is a necessity now and not just a luxury.
According to this report, speed trains are expected to be 1.5 times higher than the current first class AC fare on the Mumbai-Ahmadabad route meaning passenger will have to pay between 3000- 5000 and the time taken will be two hours. However, it will become very difficult for people to be able to afford the bullet train in India if they’re not from an affluent class.
In today’s scenario where a large number of people are illiterate and are below the poverty line, there needs to be a focus on these major issues which would at least increase the GDP and living standards of the country. Instead of the government working on these areas, it is building a sky skyscraper on a base which is not strong enough to hold the structure.
The Indian economy has been facing a lot of problem after the affect of demonetisation which was aimed at curbing the black money crisis. The scheme resulted in 35% job losses and 55% revenue dip. Then in July, came the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which has increased tariff rate in the country. After the bullet train, there is a huge chances of budget deficit in the coming years and perhaps, even a devaluation of the Indian currency.
All this makes me think that maybe, right now, India is not ready for a step as huge as the bullet train due to these various economic factors.