Mumbai: The Narendra Modi government may have grand plans for a Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, but it seems like a loss making sector for the Indian Railways. A Right to Information or RTI query has revealed that over 40 per cent of seats on the bullet train route in the last three months have been going vacant and the losses on this sector have mounted to Rs 29.91 crore.
The commercial manager of Western Railways responded to the RTI query by a Mumbai-based activist, Anil Galgali, with details from July 1 to September 30.
32 Mail and Express trains between Mumbai to Ahmedabad have been incurring a loss of 14 crore and 31 trains from Mumbai to Ahmedabad have made losses of 15 crore.
According to the Ahmedabad division, no new trains have been proposed for this route and the 12009 Shatabdi - a chair car - is the most preferred train on the route but also managed to sell only half its seats over the last three months.
The data shows that the maximum load of passengers taking trains are travelling sleeper class seats and many upper class seats are going vacant.
Last month, PM Modi had hosted Japanese Prime Minister in his home state Gujarat where the two leaders had laid the foundation for the ambitious Rs 1.10 lakh crore bullet train project. Once the project is completed in 2023, the train is expected to run at an average speed of 250 km per hour, with a top speed of around 320 km per hour - more than double the maximum speed of the fastest train in India. It is likely to reduce the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai from eight hours to a little over three hours.
The Congress has been one of the loudest critics of the bullet train project. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had also questioned the wisdom of the high-speed train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, calling it "impractical".