The ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed railway project had its first full-fledged meeting at the railway ministry earlier this week. Representatives from Maharashtra, Gujarat, the Japanese Industrial Cooperation Agency (JICA), and railway board officials attended it.
According to sources, the meeting was held to bring about a broad consensus on the project, especially between the governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The project, among the most ambitious ones the railways has on its plate, will see trains running between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at more than 300 kilometres per hour and try to complete the
530-odd kilometres between the two cities in around two hours.
According to officials, one of the things agreed upon was to start the line from Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and then take it to Thane and onward to Virar. While the state government is keen that the line also touches Belapur to bring Navi Mumbai in the ambit, railway officials said the Bealpur detour is best avoided.
Another issue that was discussed, said sources, was to ensure that the terminal to come up at BKC have a connection to the BKC metro station envisaged as part of the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro line III. "That will allow people from the southern part of Mumbai to reach BKC and board the train. With the train taking around the same time as a flight, we do believe that a lot of people will be patronising it. And south Mumbai has a sizeable chunk of people who travel frequently to Gujarat," said the official.
According to officials, there is still some ambiguity over where the terminal at Ahmedabad would be. "The railways is of the view that it should be a little away from the present Ahmedabad station," said an official.
With its price ranging between Rs35,000 to Rs60,000 crore, officials said the project will require a major push from the Gujarat government if it has to be successful. "More than Mumbai, it will be a game-changer for Gujarat since several of its big cities will be part of the network," said an official.
The project was to start from Pune but the Mumbai-Pune leg had to be dropped due to the massive cost involved in laying a high-speed network in the mountainous terrain around Pune.