New Delhi: The railways have crossed a major hurdle in rolling out the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project as the Maharashtra government has agreed to give land at the Bandra-Kurla complex (BKC).
The starting point of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor at BKC was a bone of contention between the railways and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) as the latter was strongly opposed to giving land to the public transporter.
The proposed bullet train will start underground from BKC and travel 21 km in a tunnel passing through the sea before emerging overground at Thane. The MRDA had wanted to use the BKC land for the proposed International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at BKC.
The state urban development department had also asked the railways to explore alternatives near Bandra Terminus and Kurla. However, the railways had rejected the suggestion and managed to convince the MMRDA that India’s first high speed rail project should be constructed at an underground terminus at BKC, a senior railway ministry official said.
Since the station is planned to be built underground, the above space can be utilised for IFSC construction, the official said. There are a total of 12 stations on the 508-km route — four of which are in Maharashtra and eight in Gujarat.
A formal announcement is likely to be made by the railways and Maharashtra soon ending the uncertainties over location of the starting point of India’s first bullet train project, the official said. The total land available at BKC is about 67 acres and the project needs about 10 acre land. Passenger area, platforms, escalators, lifts among others will be constructed underground at BKC.
Estimated to cost about Rs97,636 crore, 81% of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties. Maharashtra and Gujarat will also share 25% cost each for the project.
Currently geo-technical survey is going on to be followed by the final location survey to mark the alignment and exact spots for the pillars on which trains will run at higher speed to reduce the travelling time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad drastically. It takes about seven hours to travel between the two cities and the bullet train aims to reduce it to about two hours. Construction of the corridor is expected to start in 2018 and is estimated to be completed by 2023.