Interview: India Needs High-Speed Rail- Achal Khare


Achal Khare, Managing Director, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), in an interview said despite reservations, India needs high-speed rail and work is intensifying to achieve that goal. He speaks further in this conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

What is the mandate of National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited?

Achal Khare: The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has been set up as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with the partnership of Government of India through Ministry of Railways, Government of Gujarat, and the Government of Maharashtra. The prime objective of setting up this SPV is to immediately take up the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project. In future, we will do similar kind of activities in other places as well. The hallmark of this particular project is that we are setting up standards at the same time as high speed rail has never existed in India before. We have to develop all kinds of high speed rail standards in collaboration with our Japanese partners.

Speed is the most crucial factor in operating high speed rail which has not been experienced in India. How are you leveraging technology and innovation considering the speed factor?

We have to leverage new-age technologies. But when I say new-age technology, I’m not talking about a technology which has never been tried elsewhere before. But yes, for India, some of them are new. Various kinds of innovative techniques have to be adopted. We are proceeding in that direction only.

The survey part is very crucial for any project. For instance, for the first time in India’s railway project, we have done Aerial Lidar survey and not just a ground survey. It was completed in three months only. We are also consulting and interacting with leading technical institutions like IIT Mumbai and other institutions. IIT Mumbai is official partner of this project and they are helping us in various designs. IIT Gandhinagar is helping in underground utility survey.

Whenever we are hearing about new technology or innovation which can be useful for this project, we are trying to connect with them on a priority. Remarkable thing was done for Delhi Metro and now what we are going to do will be of great significance too.

On the other hand, we will be focusing seriously on trained human resources and for that, we are developing training institute much ahead of the project commissioning date. It will be ready by December 2020. It is coming up in Vadodara.

Do you think this project will be a watershed moment for India’s transport infrastructure development sector?

First transport revolution took place in India when metro rail arrived. It was within the metro cities. But the high speed rail will be the game-changer for this country. We will witness Transport Revolution 2.0 when this project will be implemented. The country needs it. There are some reservations but let’s accept it — India needs high-speed rail.

What is your vision for India’s high speed rail?

It needs to be understood in two parts. First, the Government has already given us Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor. It will ensure quick mobility. But for me, it goes beyond quick mobility. In Maharashtra, four stations (Mumbai, Thane, Virar & Boisar) will come up for this project. For the State, it will serve altogether as a new transport means. Activity centres will be shifted to places like Virar and Boisar, reducing travel time from main Mumbai city.

All this will result in a large-scale socio-economic development of the entire area. Same transformation will happen in Gujarat particularly town like Anand, Bharuch, and Vapi. In next 10-20 years, we are going to witness a complete transformation of the areas through which high-speed rail will pass. Similar thing will be noticed when high-speed rail commences operation in other parts of the country.

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