Officials from the National High-Speed Rail Corp (NHSRC) told Moneycontrol that they expect the execution of the bullet train project in India to be completed by 2028, with the first phase of the project expected to be launched in 2026.
"The government is confident of completing land acquisition by the end of the year, and project execution in Maharashtra will pick up significantly after land acquisition for the project will be completed," a senior official from the company said.
While 99 percent of the land required for the project has been obtained in Gujarat and Dadra Nagar Haveli, only 68 percent has been acquired in Maharashtra, officials said. NHSRC has, for the last few years, struggled to acquire land in the Thane Creek area of Maharashtra, where a 21-km tunnel, which includes a 7-km undersea section, is proposed.
Senior officials from the NHSRC said that they are targeting to complete the 384-km section of India's bullet train project in Gujarat by 2027, and then shift their focus to the section in Maharashtra.
"Execution of the project appears to be going on track, 94 percent of civil works contracts for the 352-km Gujarat portion of the line have been awarded," another NHSRC official said.
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NHSRC has also made progress with earthworks at several locations including Vapi, Surat, Boisar and Bharuch. The high-speed station at Surat is expected to be completed by March 2023, while the passenger terminal hub at Sabarmati is scheduled for completion by next month.
The company is also targeting to start operations of a 50-km section between Surat and Bilimoria by 2023-24 and has set December 2028 as the timeline to complete execution of the project.
“Rolling stock and signalling bids for the Gujarat and DNB sections will also be awarded within two years,” the first NHSRC official added.
The Rs 1.08 lakh crore 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) project was launched by the government in 2017 and was expected to be completed in 2023, according to former railway minister Piyush Goyal.
The project is being constructed with 80 percent loan from Japan at 0.1 percent interest and a 15-year moratorium, with the system to be built mostly with Japanese technology on the lines of the Shinkansen.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav on July 20 said the new timeline for execution of the MAHSR project can only be determined once the land acquisition is completed.
In a response in the Lok Sabha, Vaishnav said the execution of MAHSR has been delayed mainly due to delays in land acquisition in Maharashtra and consequent delays in the finalisation of contracts.
He added that the new timeline for project execution and anticipated cost increase can be ascertained only after completion of land acquisition, finalisation of all contracts and associated timelines.
In another response to the Lok Sabha, the railway minister said that till now, 90 percent of land acquisition for MAHSR has been completed."Out of total 1,396 hectares of land required for MAHSR project, about 90 percent of the land, i.e. approximately 1,264 hectares of land has been acquired," Vaishnav said in his response.