The bullet train project will reduce travel time from Ahmedabad to Mumbai from eight to three hours
- India's first bullet train to run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai from 2023
- 40% of train seats going empty in last 3 months on that route: RTI reply
- No new trains being planned for the route, say Railways officials
India's first bullet train, set to debut in 2023 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat and Maharashtra, may not have been planned on a very profitable route, an activist's RTI or Right to Information query has revealed. For the Railways, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route has been a loss-making one with over 40 per cent of the seats going empty in the last three months. The Railways has recorded a loss of nearly Rs 30 crore since July on the route, according to a senior official.
Here are 10 points on the bullet train project
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Amid opposition criticism of the viability of the project, a Mumbai-based activist, Anil Galgali, had asked for details of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train route and the railways' revenue from July 1 to September 30.
No new trains are being planned for the route, say railway officials. The Shatabdi Express, which is the most preferred train, also managed to sell only half its seats on the route over the last three months.
Most passengers are travelling on sleeper trains but many upper class seats are going unsold, according to officials.
Last month, PM Modi, along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, launched the Rs 1.10 lakh crore project, calling the bullet train a "giant step in fulfilling a long cherished dream".
The bullet train, using Japanese trains and technology, will cut the 500 km journey between Gujarat's Ahmedabad and Mumbai, India's financial capital, from eight hours now to just over three hours.
The new train will have a capacity to carry 750 passengers. It has a top speed of up to 350 kilometres an hour -- more than double the maximum speed of the fastest ones in India today.
The Railways ministry is collaborating with Japan's Shinkansen Technology for the train. Japan, which is providing 85 percent of the cost in soft loans, will also facilitate transfer of technology through training of local engineers.
The Congress has been one of the loudest critics of the bullet train project, calling it an example of the government's "misplaced priorities".
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had also questioned the wisdom of the high-speed train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, calling it "impractical".
Hitting back at critics, PM Modi said at a rally in Gujarat earlier this month: "Some people would have gone all out to criticise me... the way they criticise bullet trains these days." They would have criticized even his IIT plan, had it been election season, he commented.