India’s first bullet train anteroom, between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, could turn out to be the world’s cheapest high-speed train service.
To Mumbai-Ahmedabad India’s first bullet train, a team of Japanese company working on its feasibility study has worked out its “fare box revenue” model, according to which the bullet train fare will be just one-and-a-half times more than the AC-I fares of other trains on the same route.
According to the feasibility study model, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train fare works out to about Rs 2,800, calculated on the basis of the current AC-I train fare of Rs 1,895. Currently, all the Mumbai-Ahmedabad trains on this route take at least eight to nine hours for the 534-km journey. The bullet train is expected to cover this distance less than two hours.
Japan’s Tohoku Shinkansen (Hayabusa trains) charges about Rs 8,000 for a 713-km ride on the Tokyo-Shin-Aomori sector.
A second class ticket on China’s Jinghu High Speed Railway for the Beijing-Shanghai route costs over Rs 5,000.
In India, initial estimates a few years ago had pegged the fare for this corridor to be in the same range. Officials, however, said the latest study of the possible fare model gives a more realistic picture about the fear in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.
The Japanese team likely to be submitted this feasibility study report to the Railways Ministry in July 2015. The Japanese team also carried out a survey of people travelling on the proposed corridor by asking them how much they would like to pay for a Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train service with a speed of about 320 kmph.
Apart from the complex mathematics of the fare box revenue model, the feedback obtained from the people was also factored in while calculating the likely fare, informed by sources.
As per the team’s predication, about 40,000 people are going to use the corridor every day by 2023 — when the bullet train service is expected to begin. The AC-1 fares for this sector in 2023 would serve as the reference for the bullet train fares.
The study found that pricing of bullet train tickets any higher would make the flights a more attractive option, and any lower would not support the maximum revenue generation.
By keeping the fares less, the bullet train will be able to steer clear of a fare war with airlines, while also retaining the existing business of higher-class railway travel.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train anteroom is expected to have around ten stations, and is supposed to cost Rs 98 thousand crore, after factoring in inflation and taxes. Work on the anteroom is expected to be completed about eight years after it is commissioned.