Published: Sat, September 16, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Mumbai demands for reforms in local trains over the new bullet train

Mumbai demands for reforms in local trains over the new bullet train

Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has entered into an agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (KHI) of Japan for manufacturing of rolling stock for the bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai. Currently, train travel between the two cities is around seven hours. The Shiv Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece "Saamna", launched a number of attack on Narendra Modi government and asked whether the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed train project really fits the needs of the country.

The party also said it was done to "mislead the people". According to them, bullet train is a capital intensive project and is economically unviable.

Why should Prime Minister Modi focus on bullet trains when basic safety measures are not ensured in our transport system?

He was hopeful that the government will make provisions to make tickets for the bullet train affordable to general public, and added that it will prove beneficial to those, who can't afford flight tickets.

Thus from the main opposition party, the Congress, to the Shiv Sena, the ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, critics lambasted Modi's attempt to bring the majestic bullet train to India. "Most of the stops are in Gujarat and there are stops in places which have a population of just 36,000", said Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh.

Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail transport and some of their trains are ranked among the fastest in the world.

While Modi called the project as a harbinger of change, the Congress called the bullet train as a "chunavi bullet train" (election bullet train) as Gujarat, the home state of Modi, is all set to host the Assembly elections later this year.

Both countries are in territorial disputes with China, and their close ties are seen by some as a response against China's growing influence in the region.

The bullet trains in Japan get cleaned in mere seven minutes, and it gets ready to run again.

Even a group of farmers from Boisar in Palghar district of Maharashtra protested against the project fearing acquisition of their lands.

Vandana Chavan, Pune NCP Chief and Rajya Sabha MP said, "We don't oppose development but this is not the right time to launch bullet train venture".

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