A high-level Japanese delegation led by Mori Masafumi, Special Advisor to the Japanese Prime Minister, is scheduled to visit India on December 25 to meet Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav and resolve a number of important issues related to India’s first bullet train project amid delay and cost overrun.
The Japanese delegation and the Union Minister for Railways are scheduled to visit the project site to view the ongoing work. The visit by Japanese dignitaries is significant as India is looking to a concrete commitment from Japan on completing the 508 km Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail link in part by 2026.
According to the most recent ground report, the project will have been made a physical development of 24.1 per cent by 23 November 2022, with about 30 per cent of the work finished in Gujarat and around 13 per cent progress has been made in Maharashtra.
While the land acquisition process is nearly over, civil construction contracts for the viaduct, bridge, station and rail construction for some portions have already been given. However, the project is expected to enter a crucial phase as soon as the rolling stock tenders, including the train set and signalling system, are finalised and put on the market.
Before putting out the offer, the Japanese and Indian sides must come to an agreement on the expected pricing of the rolling stock because of the escalating input costs. These difficulties are likely to be handled during the upcoming visit of the Japanese delegation, according to insiders, since both parties will attempt to fix them through a series of conversations.
The large-scale project received approval in December 2015 with an estimated cost of Rs 1,08,000 crore and 80 per cent Japanese funding in the form of an easy loan. The project cost overrun has reached about Rs 2 lakh crore as of today due to the higher land purchase price, increased input cost, the fluctuating Yen, and GST, however, it has been delayed for a number of reasons. The cost of cement, steel, and land acquisition has increased significantly since 2015, when the project was approved, according to the Railways.
The cost has also changed as a result of the price fluctuations because the JICA loan is in Japanese yen. Additionally, the GST will cost the implementing agency somewhere around Rs 20,000 crore.
Although the bullet train project was previously scheduled to be finished by 2023, it has subsequently undergone numerous extensions, and a goal has now been established to have it operating in the Gujarat region by 2026.