High speed bullet train service to be built by China from Chennai to Delhi

Again, do we really need such high-cost, high-speed trains only for the rich (fares comparable to airline prices), that too built by China, who after hit economic slowdown is now using India to dump their so called superior technology at our cost?


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I have to argue against your idea, I’m afraid. We are a very crowded country where (almost) all methods of public transport are brimming with - you guessed it - people. You could have argued we didn’t Delhi Metro. Some people did. It’s the lifeline of both poor and middle income households.

Employment opportunities cannot be an argument since that would stand true even in case of normal trains. However, there is a case for reduced burden on highways, less reliance on expensive air tickets which are directly dependent on international fuel prices, tourist-friendly transport mode that is quick and efficient, lower burden on normal trains - enabling better chances of last minute booking on both platforms. The footprint is touted to be lesser than both cars and airplanes, and steam/diesel run trains.

Don’t you think the cost at current levels is prohibitive even though countries like Japan may offer soft loans and China may claim they have already turned their HSR profitable?

Take for example the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line. I heard the budget for that is around 98,000 crores. While the budget for the entire Indian railways for a year is somewhere around 50,000 crores or about half of that. Of course we are not spending all the 98,000 crores in a year. The estimated project time is 7 years. But in those years we will also pay interest to Japan for the loan of 70,000+ crores provided, which will continue for 15 years.

Which means by investing the 98,000 crores plus interest of about 100cr a year in upgrading the speeds of normal trains and improving comfort for passengers, India can achieve a moderately fast train network between most major cities for all.

I am for a fast, comfortable rail network for all and not a few super fast trains for the elite while the rest of us rot in uncomfortable slow coaches chugging along our antiquated rail network.

I still feel high-speed bullet trains in India will make sense if India is investing in building the HSR technology itself. Like China did - not sure if originally or by copying, stealing designs from Japan and Europe. High time we spend a considerable amount of money on Transportation research and development.

If we build the HSR technology ourselves, then we will have not only cheaper bullet trains but also will be making money building it in other countries like Japan and China are doing.

I believe high speed trains are necessary to augment air travel. Sure, travel by these trains will be at premium pricing but we do need to improve our ageing rail network where even the fastest trains are too slow. Time is at a premium too, our country is vast and we need to have means to travel from one place to another without spending a few days travelling each way.

For example, a train from Thiruvananthapuram to New Delhi or the other way around takes ~52 hours to reach it’s destination. A train from Thiruvananthapuram to Guwahati takes ~65 hours one way. Superfast trains will introduce new technology gradually to other routes, it is a step into the future that absolutely needs to be done, one way or another.

A superfast train may eventually offer pricing that is significantly cheaper than air travel and will be a lot more environment-friendly.

China isn’t what it used to be, it has emerged as an economic superpower that will challenge the traditional industrial nations like the USA, England and Japan - in fact it already is. Chinese technology is not inferior, lets face it, most of our electronics are made in China or have components that are manufactured there. There are some Chinese products that lack quality but that is mostly something of the past.

The Chinese are known to copy and reproduce cheaper alternatives. This isn’t limited to the Chinese though, the Koreans and Russians among others have long since perfected this art. Someone invented the atomic bomb but it’s technology is now almost commonplace even Pakistan is now nuclear-capable. Obviously, there has been some ‘copying’ here. Nobody reinvented the wheel!

In the same vein, India must weigh its options and consider ‘developing’ its own technological capabilities, be it for HSR or whatever else where viable.

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