Passengers will get the thrill of riding under the sea while travelling between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in the first bullet train of the country.
The 508 km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor will have a 21 km long tunnel under the sea, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the public transporter's ambitious bullet train project.
While most part of the corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track, there will be a stretch after Thane creek towards Virar which will go under the sea as per the detailed project report by JICA.
Estimated to cost about Rs 97,636 crore, 81 per cent of the funding for the project will come by way of a loan from Japan. The project cost includes possible cost escalation, interest during construction and import duties.
It is a soft loan for 50 years at 0.1 per cent annual interest with 15 years' moratorium, said the official.
Rolling stock and other equipment like signalling and power system will be imported from Japan as per the loan agreement.
The official said the loan agreement with Japan is slated to be signed by the end of the year and construction work is likely to begin by the end of 2018. According top priority to the first of its kind project, railways has formed National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV), with a paid-up capital of Rs 500 crore.
A search committee comprising senior government officials including Cabinet Secretary, Chairman Railway Board and Secretary DOPT among others is on the job currently to select the Managing Director and five directors for the NHSRCL.
Railways has already allotted Rs 200 crore for the SPV. Maharashtra and Gujarat will have equity of 25 per cent each, while the Railways will have 50 per cent in the SPV.
The bullet train is expected to cover 508 km between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in about two hours, running at a maximum speed of 350 kmph and operating speed of 320 kmph.
At present, Duronto Express takes about seven hours to cover the distance between the two financial centres.
For timely completion of the project, a joint committee has been formed under the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog with the secretaries of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Departments of Economic Affairs and Foreign Ministry as its members along with the Railway Board Chairman.