Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train rates would be comparable to existing conventional train rates, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Legislative Council today. He was responding to a motion to draw the attention of Congress’ Sanjay Dutt. Dutt claimed that 67 percent of the high-speed rail route would be in Gujarat, however, the financial part of Maharashtra was equal to that of the neighboring state and required a cost-benefit analysis. “The priority should have been the safety of the passengers, the modernization of the tracks.” An IIM study says that the bullet train will have to make 100 rounds and move a lakh traveler daily to make it viable, said Dutt.
Fadnavis said the economic viability had been revised. “The cost of traveling on a bullet train ticket would be as much as the normal rail rate,” said Fadnavis. Fadnavis, responding to the motion, said that airports continued to be built throughout the country despite the fact that only three percent of people traveled by plane because mobility led to development and growth. He said that the bullet train project, first proposed under then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, would also be replicated on other routes once the first one has been completed.
He said that the loan granted by Japan was for a period of 50 years and that no money had to be returned during the first 20 years, adding that the interest rate was lower than 0.5 percent. “There will be technology transfer and job creation, the infrastructure sector is the one that contributes the most to GDP growth, with this project there will be a massive creation of jobs,” he said.
Fadnavis also said that even when China was granting a loan at a better interest rate than Japan, accepting the proposal of the first was not a viable option. “China had granted commercial loans to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, both countries failed, the loan that we will obtain will be almost non-commercial, and after 20 years, our fiscal space will be much larger, so it will not be a big burden to pay it. “said Fadnavis.
Responding to Dutt’s claim of the distribution of costs between Maharashtra and Gujarat, Fadnavis said that three states had contributed to the formation of the Konkan Railway, while Maharashtra had been the one that had benefited most from it. “We not only look at the immediate benefits but from a long-term perspective,” he added.