A proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will need to carry 88,000 to 118,000 passengers per day to be able to pay off loans with interest, a new study has revealed.
For perspective, the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata, the largest in India and second-largest in the world, has a capacity of 66,000.
The plan is to run a bullet train at 240 kilometres per hour (kmph), reducing travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad (534 km) to two hours from the present eight.
“Few high-speed rail (HSR) schemes like the Tokaido (Tokyo-Osaka) and Sanyo Shinkansen (which combined had 207 million passengers in 2011), and the TGV Sud-Est (Paris-Lyon) have made financial returns,” said the working paper of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. “In China, of four recent openings studied, only the Jinan-Qingdao line is covering (sic) financial costs. These have first year usage in excess of 20 million passengers per annum”.
The study considered operating ratios–the ratio of operating costs to revenue–of 20% and 40% to arrive at the required train capacity.
Six hours saved = Rs 2,000 more.
The study considered an approximate travel cost of Rs 5 per km per passenger. After accounting for travel over shorter distances along the same line, an average fare of Rs 1,500 per passenger (for 300 km) was considered.
This means a first-class ticket from Mumbai to Ahmedabad on the bullet train will cost Rs 2,670, said the study.
The current cost of a first-class railway ticket from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is typically Rs 660, while a second class ticket costs Rs 180.
This means a passenger will save about six hours on a bullet train, but the journey will cost Rs 2,000 more.
On the other hand, a flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, which takes about 75-80 minutes, typically costs anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000 in the economy class, but the timings may not always be suitable for passengers.
88,000 passengers = three bullet trains every hour in each direction
“Typically one train carries 800 passengers, so to carry 88,000 passengers daily, you will need to take a total 100 trips, or 50 trips each way,” G Raghuram, a professor at IIM Ahmedabad and a co-author of the study, was quoted as saying in this Indian Express report. “So, we need three trains every hour in each direction.”
A doctoral dissertation by T Ramakrishnan, quoted in the IIM Ahmedabad study, estimated that the 48 million passengers will use the line every year, by 2025.
This article was republished from IndiaSpend.org.