NEW DELHI (Metro Rail & Steel): In a significant move to revolutionize the country’s railway network, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced plans for India’s first bullet train section between Bilimora and Surat in Gujarat, expected to be finalized by August 2026. Speaking on Wednesday, Mr. Vaishnaw outlined several initiatives aimed at transforming rail services across the nation. During his address, the minister highlighted the development of the Kavach system, an indigenous warning mechanism designed to prevent on-track collisions. This technology gained prominence following a tragic accident in Odisha’s Balasore in June that claimed nearly 300 lives.
In addition to safety measures, Mr. Vaishnaw shed light on the Gajraj system, aimed at averting collisions between trains and elephants, a prevalent issue in some regions. He emphasized the expansion of railway tracks to bolster connectivity across various parts of the country. Furthermore, the Railway Minister disclosed an increase in the number of new trains, including mail/express services, suburban trains, and passenger trains. This rise, compared to the pre-pandemic numbers, illustrates the effort to enhance rail services across India.
Notably, the Railways served around 640 crore passengers during 2022/23, with a target set at 750 crore for the forthcoming fiscal year of 2023/24. Regarding the ambitious bullet train project, Mr. Vaishnaw elaborated on the progress of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, of which the Bilimora-Surat section forms a crucial segment. Updates on the construction of viaducts spanning 100 km and pier work covering 230 km were provided, showcasing significant strides in this mega-infrastructure project.
The minister shared a video on social media platforms exhibiting completed viaducts across various districts in Gujarat, highlighting the project’s advancement. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, underway since November 2021, has seen notable progress with the construction of the first kilometer of the viaduct achieved within six months. Moreover, the project includes the development of bridges across six rivers, a critical aspect of the high-speed rail corridor.
The estimated cost for this massive project stands at approximately ₹1.08 lakh crore, with the Centre, Gujarat, and Maharashtra governments contributing ₹10,000 crore, ₹5,000 crore each, respectively. The remainder will be secured through a loan from Japan, offered at an exceptionally low interest rate of 0.1 per cent. The National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has been actively sharing updates and drone footage of the project’s progress, showcasing completed and ongoing bridge constructions. This massive initiative promises to transform India’s transportation landscape, ushering in a new era of high-speed rail connectivity in the country.