Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bullet trains in India: pros and cons


While the country seemed excited when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a diamond quadrilateral of bullet trains to connect the four major cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai in his venture called “Smart cities” project, critics have a lot to say. There are reasons to be happy about this project and there are reasons that drive us to ponder if this is the first priority of a nation with majority of its population below poverty line. Let us look at it from all point of views and generate our own opinion on this.

Pros of Bullet trains:

1. Speed: High speed is one of the biggest reasons for the proposal of this idea when it was first initiated in India. Major cities connecting with towns of economic growth face the problem of fast transportation. This would save time and boost businesses amongst the connected cities. Reduction in commuting time is greatly required in Mumbai and other metro cities where a lot of time is consumed in the process.

2. Comfort: These trains would utilize high grade technology to provide comfortable journey of long hours within just a few hours. Improvising on the comfort level of train journeys have been a missing factor in Indian railways and the introduction of bullet trains would be a great development in this factor.

3. Safety: Earlier there were questions raised on the safety issues of these high speed trains but the Shinkansen network of Japan shows excellent records of safety. Ever since the bullet trains started in 1964, the Shinkansen has reported zero fatalities.

4. Avoid overcrowding: Making commuting easier from small town to major cities would lessen the crowd of settlement and migration in major cities which would reduce pressure on growing urban areas. Chief Minister has rightly mentioned decongestion of Bangalore as one of the reasons for the bullet train.

5. Stronger and eco-friendly: Not only these High speed trains are stronger enough to carry heavier weight but are also eco-friendly as they do not require deforestations to set tracks. It is a modern and technologically advanced means of transportation which can be a step towards growth and development in India.

Cons of bullet trains:

1. Cost of construction: The cost of laying a bullet-train corridor is estimated to cost up to Rs 100 crore a kilometre. After summing up the costs of signals, rolling stock, etc, the cost can rise up to Rs 115 crore a km. Operation and maintenance costs would also be high.

2.High fares: Fares of these trains would be high too in order to compensate the expenses and maintenance. One way fare on Mumbai-Ahmadabad route is projected to be around Rs 5,000. Quite few Indians would be able to afford travelling with these expenses. And even those who would be willing to pay such a high price might prefer travelling planes instead. If this factor is not considered, then the project might prove to be a loss for the government.

3.Time consuming project: The project is at its initial level of planning and it is predicted that the implementation of the plan would take years. In between if there is a change in government, and then the project could face the consequences.

4. Land acquisition: For laying tracks, there would be issues of land acquisition which might trigger anger amongst commoners whose everyday living might come under menace. For instance laying these tracks in Mumbai would require acquisition of land which has the largest slums in the city.

5. Other issues: This project might have other issues under India’s present condition including plaguing of power sector, choice of speed and gauge, minimum length of the route for the viability of the project, etc. It is important to understand whether or not India is ready for this change.

Conclusion:

Bullet train has sets of pros and cons under India’s present situations and they need to be properly handled so that it brings prosperity and development in the country and not debacles. Every factor must be considered wisely and safeguarding of people’s living should not be compromised. There are risks in this project but without risks nothing big can be acquired.

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