New Delhi September 18 (India Today): The proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will have to ferry 88,000-118,000 passengers per day, or undertake 100 trips daily, for the Railways to keep it financially viable, says a report by Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
The report is titled, “Dedicated High Speed Railway (HSR) Networks in India: Issues in Development.”
Report states that if the Railways set the ticket price at Rs 1500 per person for 300-km drive, then fifteen years after the operation it will have to ferry between 88,000 and 110,000 passengers every day to ensure that it repays the loans with interest on time.
Japan has offered a concessional loan of Rs 97,636 crore to fund about 80 per cent of the project cost with a repayment period of 50 years beginning from the 16th year of operation at an interest rate of 0.1 per cent.
For the remaining 20 per cent loan, the authors assume 8 per cent average rate of interest (on Rs 20,000 crore to be funded by the Indian government).
Japan has offered a 15-year moratorium on loan, so revenue concerns for the Indian Railways will arise from the 16th year of operation, the authors stated in the paper.
The total distance covered by the train will be 534 kilometres.
The paper has been jointly authored by faculty members G Raghuram, professor of the institute’s Public Systems Group, and Prashanth Udayakumar.
While the actual operating cost fifteen years after the bullet train becomes operational, is not known, the paper assumes two scenarios by pegging operating cost at 20 per cent and 40 per cent of revenue.
“So if the Railways earn Rs 100 revenue, Rs 20 or Rs 40 will go for maintenance, and remaining surplus money will go for cash payment of loan with interest. Now, to cover the loan with operating cost in two scenarios, we consider passengers travelling an average distance of 300 kilometres. In this case, we will need 88,000-118,000 passengers respectively for both the scenarios,” Raghuram said.
“Typically one train carries 800 passengers, so to carry 88,000 passengers daily, you will need to take a total of 100 trips, or 50 trips each way. So, we need three trains every hour in each direction,” he said.
As per the paper, “there are many positive benefits and externalities of the HSR which would be useful in India’s overall aspirational development.”
(The featured picture at the top shows a Japanese bullet train)