The quest to build India’s first underwater bullet train has officially begun. The Railway Ministry has announced that drilling on the 7-km underwater route of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor has commenced in order to analyse the soil conditions of the area.
The bullet train is Japan’s renowned high-speed Shinkansen, which PM Narendra Modi experienced riding during his visit to the country in 2016.
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The undersea bullet train will be launched in India as part of a Memorandum of Understanding reached at the Japan-India Summit Meeting held in December 2015. It will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad, reducing the seven-hour journey to just about two hours. The underwater stretch will be located after Thane Creek, on the way to Virar.
“Soil and rocks below the 70-metre-deep sea are being tested as part of the geo-technical and geo-physical investigation undertaken for the entire project,” a Railway Ministry official said, according to the Economic Times.
The 508-km-long corridor will be, for the most part, set up on an elevated track. A 21-km underground tunnel will connect Thane to Virar, and the underwater stretch is likely to be located close to the Thane Creek. The elevated corridor prevents land acquisitions and additional underpasses while the tunnel will help to conserve the area’s lush green cover.
The Shinkansen bullet trains are among the fastest in Japan. The high-speed network is operated by five companies and has been running since 1964. The route from the Japanese capital of Tokyo to Hakodate also includes an underwater Seikan Tunnel, which inspires the proposed undersea corridor near Thane.
The survey for the train route is being undertaken by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is also funding most of the project through a loan. Building of the corridor is expected to start in 2018 and completed by 2023.