‘Despite delay, bullet trains could start running in Gujarat before 2024’

by Times of India

NEW DELHI: Delay in land acquisition in

Maharashtra

and

Covid pandemic

have impacted the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, but

railways

on Saturday did not rule out the possibility of operation of the high speed trains on the

Gujarat

side before 2024.

A major portion of the

project corridor

– 349 km out of total 508 km – falls in Gujarat. Railway board CEO and chairman, V K Yadav said while in Gujarat 82% of the required land has been acquired, barely 23% has been acquired in Maharashtra.

“In the case of linear projects, it’s better to award works when 90% of land is available. We are in talks with the Maharashtra government and are hopeful of good progress in the next six months,” he added.

Responding to a question from TOI on the possibility of making the first bullet train operational in Gujarat portion, Yadav said, “We are hopeful of land acquisition in Gujarat touching 95-100% in the next three months. It’s desirable to open the entire corridor in one go. As land acquisition status gets clear, we will take a decision and we will share it with you.”

Sources said the government would be keen to deliver the project before the next general election. Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

had laid the foundation stone for the high speed rail or bullet train project in September 2017 and December 2023 was set as the deadline.

Yadav said all designs related to the project have been approved; tenders have been finalised and all statutory approvals have been obtained, While maintaining that the project is progressing well, he said an assessment would be carried out in the next 3-6 months as the Covid condition and land acquisition improve. “Then we will be in a position to set the timeline,” he added.

The railway board chief claimed there is significant interest from both domestic and Japanese players.

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