It’s the second anniversary of the Modi Led BJP government and we have seen a lot of hits and misses in the last 2 years. From fuel prices, foreign travels, degree issues, nationalism problems and what not, we have seen everything. Out of the long list of promises made by the current government, one was about running a Bullet Train. Modi along with the social media friendly Suresh Prabhu have made promises to run a Bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Well, only one of our neighbour – China – has the bullet train, so how can India stay far away ? But to be frank, do we actually need Bullet Trains ?
The government had announced the Bullet Train service from Ahmedabad to Mumbai that would cover a distance of over 500kms and would have a 21km track under the sea. The approximate estimate of the project is dubbed to be a whopping 96,000 Crores ! And out of this, 91% amount will be a loan by Japan. So they have the dream, but no money to fulfill it ? Why dream of something which is out of reach ? I’m not saying that taking a loan is bad, but with loan from World Bank – which we are still repaying btw – taking such a huge loan for something that is not needed is not financially good. (I’m not a financial pundit, so would love to have a view from a finance guru’s perspective)
Also, the Indian Railways are one of the largest rail networks in the world covering a vast area of about 115,000 kms and still there are places on these routes where the track has been laid but the train has never reached due to various factors. It would be wise to spend money on increasing the number of trains or their frequency to places that are in need. And if the existing infrastructure doesn’t allow to run more trains, then spending money to improve the existing infrastructure is needed. There are many railway stations that see a high footfall, so improving the existing station is a must. Also electrifying some routes, adding additional tracks to name a few should be addressed on priority.
Apart from the infrastructure itself, the implementation of plans / policies should be more effective. Few months back the ministry had planned a lot of services during the Railway budget, but how well are they implemented ? They would be available instantly at important places but not at smaller stations. Be it the SMS based train cleaning service or the police complaint services, how effective these are on the ground is what really matters. The number of new policies, schemes is of no use until unless the existing ones are improved.
Lastly, India is a country where a large population is still living below the poverty line. Their living conditions are bad and for them every rupee spent is a big burden. On the other hand we have the creamy layer, who often ‘fly’ to places rather than travelling in trains. So with such a huge ‘economical gap’ (correct me if this term is incorrect) who will use the Bullet train ? The middle class is happy travelling in trains and they surely can afford flights in extreme situations. While the rich don’t bother as their travel plans are by air and the poor queue up to get into the un-reserved coach. Looking at this the investment in Bullet train isn’t a good idea as we don’t ‘need’ one.
I know there would be many people (including me) who would definitely travel once in the bullet train but what after that ? How many will actually use it ? Share your views whether India actually needs a Bullet Train ?