Category Archives: Infrastructure

5 Reasons on Why India urgently needs a Bullet Train Network

Source: 5 Reasons on Why India urgently needs a Bullet Train Network

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Modi government’s Rs 10,000 crore plan to transform Andaman and Nicobar islands

Source: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.aspx?get=new&id=1xnbTpbfu6Q=

India has drawn up an ambitious, Rs 10,000 crore plan to transform the Andaman and Nicobar Islands into the country’s first maritime hub, taking advantage of its strategic location and making it the base for infrastructure that will include an expanded dry dock and ship repair industry in the capital Port Blair.

The Narendra Modi government has readied a blueprint of the plan that also entails protection of the original Jarawa inhabitants while boosting the tourism potential of locations such as limestone caves and mud volcanoes.

“Plans for the projects that are to be undertaken over the next two years have already been formulated,” shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told ET. “Action is being initiated.”

Projects that entail an investment of Rs 2,000 crore have been sanctioned and work on the rest of the programme will start soon.

The shipping ministry has prepared a 15-year perspective plan for the development of shipping and port infrastructure on the islands, which are home to India’s eastern and southern tips, putting them within close distance of an international shipping route.

Apart from ship repairs, the plan includes the development of port infrastructure, the acquisition of vessels to run mainland-island services, the purchase of tugs for safe berthing and sprucing up docking capacity.

“Andaman is a very sensitive zone. So, all these projects will have to be undertaken after assessing the impact on environment,” said a senior government official. “Tribal areas and tourist areas would be bifurcated. We are creating sea routes so that these areas are not disturbed.”

Over the past decades, the Jarawa indigenous peoples have been hit by the arrival of settlers from elsewhere in India and the limited development that has taken place, especially the construction of the Andaman Trunk Road and the rise in tourism. As is typical in such instances, this has meant the spread of disease among the Jarawa, sexual and other forms of abuse by outsiders, incursions into their territory and rampant poaching.

Campaigners have demanded that the government shut the trunk road and that there should be no forcible attempts to ‘mainstream’ them.

To be sure, the islands are a big tourist draw because the pristine waters make it ideal for diving.

To promote the area as a destination, the government has sanctioned a Rs 50 crore project on the development of a sea route from Port Blair to Baratang, one of the islands and home to the mud volcanoes. The project is being implemented by Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works and will be completed by October 2017. To augment the dry docking capacity in Port Blair, the existing facility will be expanded with an investment of about Rs 120 crore.

The government doesn’t want to be the sole participant in creating modern port and shipping infrastructure in the islands.

“For the ship repair industry, we are expecting private participation. The government has also set aside Rs 1,000 crore for the same,” said the official cited above.

Around the islands, 23 sites have been identified for development into ports, with seven of these being small facilities. The government plans to spend about Rs 4,000 crore on this project and also to create direct connectivity with Chennai and Vizag ports.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a chain of 572 islands of which a little more than 30 are inhabited. They constitute 0.2 per cent of India’s land mass but provide for 30 per cent of the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In keeping with their strategic location, the ministry is also collaborating with the ministry of defence through the Andaman and Nicobar Command to undertake some of the projects. The islands are scattered between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea and are closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than the Indian mainland. Parts of the islands were devastated by the 2004 tsunami that originated off the Indonesian coast.

The ministry of defence is undertaking three different projects in the islands that will be of key strategic importance to India. Officials, however, didn’t provide details about the projects, saying all of them were critical in nature.

The southern islands lie near the Malacca Straits, a gateway to the Indian Ocean through which China gets some of its oil.

The southernmost tip, known as Indira point and located in the Greater Nicobar area, is 100 nautical miles away from Sumatra and 200 miles from Singapore. It’s an overnight journey to Phuket through the sea route from Greater Nicobar. However, no ship currently operates on this route.

“This region has huge potential for us as the international trading route that originates from Singapore and connects with the east-west corridor is hardly 15 nautical miles from Indira point,” said another government official.

The government has also planned a container transhipment terminal in the area to tap into the potential of the international trading route to cut down on freight costs. However, getting environmental clearance will be tough as the Greater Nicobar area has dense forests.

The Andaman and Nicobar administration is also planning to declare Port Blair a free trade area. But only clean, non-polluting industries will be allowed. The move is aimed at boosting employment opportunities, said an officer of the Andaman administration.

The government aims to acquire 60 small and large passenger and cargo ships for around Rs 5,000 crore.

“These ships would provide better connectivity with Chennai and Vizag port,” said one of the officials cited above. “We have already ordered two ships with capacity of 1,200 passengers and 100 tonnes of cargo each. Four small ships with capacity of 500 passengers each for inter-island connectivity are also being acquired.”

There is a plan to buy luxury cruise ships for wealthier visitors, to replace the aging, basic vessels that are available.

5 Reasons on Why India urgently needs a Bullet Train Network

Ribhu Vashishtha

Future of Indian High Speed Rail

PM Modi is all set to embark on his first Japan visit as the PM tomorrow and the high speed bullet train project will be high on his agenda for discussions. The modern high speed bullet trains first originated in Japan in 1964. Japan is India’s biggest bilateral economic donor. Japan assisted India during the setting up of the Delhi Metro system. Therefore, ties between Japan and India extend beyond being ceremonial to being built on the foundation of concrete partnerships. Japan and India have the potential to create a more concrete partnership based on mutual trust and friendship. Friendship between Japan and India is all set to surge to a new higher level. The future is here now!

It is well known that projects such as: metro trains (MRTS-Mass Rapid Transit System), LRTS (Light Rapid Transit System), monorails, dedicated bus corridors, etc.; are…

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Skill Development INDIA – Key Issues

India is on track to becoming the nation with the largest work force in the world. More than 50% of our population is below the age of 25 years and more than 65% is below the age of 35 years; and in the future this force will become the spine of our economy. The prospects are huge for the nation. To tap this demographic dividend efficiently and effectively, calls are on by the country’s eminent men and women to emphasize on skill development of the work force. And the Government of India is laying out a massive programme to equip the work force with the requisite skills. Prime Minister Modi has expressed his vision towards this end through his sobriquet of Skill, Scale and Speed or the 3S if you will. The Government is going to unleash a “Skill India” programme to achieve the skilling and training of the future work force. The PM is inviting foreign countries to invest in India, luring them by showing India’s 3Ds : Democracy, Demography and Demand!                       

Having said that, it is also important to note the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead on road to the successful implementation of this ambitious and unprecedented programme. Having worked in the skill development sector of India myself for a short period of time (8 months), I have witnessed firsthand the challenges in this sector.

Challenges:

  1. MOBILIZATION: Student mobilization to get trained has been a major concern due to the traditional mindset, low willingness to migrate and low salaries at entry level.
  2. EMPLOYERS’ BUY-IN: The employer does not distinguish whether an employee has picked up skills on the job or if he has acquired them through formal training.
  3. CORRUPTION: Many affiliates of NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation) have misused the STAR Scheme. In the STAR Scheme, the Government of India provides a fixed sum of money for the student to get trained or skilled at the affiliate’s training centre. The student does not have to pay anything, it is like a scholarship for him by the Government. The affiliate ropes in students for whom this scheme has not been created by the Government, thus resulting in losses of Government money because of the corrupt affiliate’s greed. The affiliate does so because of the first challenge listed above i.e. difficulty in “Mobilization” of the target group. The affiliate instead tries to enroll college students through collaborations with colleges. The money that the GOI (Government of India) provides for each student skilled at the centre goes to the affiliate. The affiliate provides a share to the college/institute with which it has collaborated. Therefore, instead of going the hard way and enrolling village students and the really needy, the affiliate gets bulk enrolments from the colleges and both of them share the dishonestly earned profit. In certain cases, affiliates’ providing a share to the student has also been witnessed.

Even I was asked by my boss to sign MoUs like these with colleges even though college-going students are not the intended target group of the Government. I found this totally unethical and hence I resigned from my job. Tell me why should we spend taxpayer money given by the Government for skilling a B.Tech, B.Com or MBA student for a retail job or an accountancy job or a Pizza Hut salesman position? Just so that the affiliated company can get the funds (read: profits) from the Government for skilling these otherwise well-to-do students who will anyway get a placement/job by themselves! The unethical affiliate knows very well that the student is going to decline such job offers (retail, fast food sales, accountant) as these are below his/her aspirations, still to get in numbers the morally reprehensible sales heads push the centres to enroll such unsuitable candidates, in the process forgetting their duty towards the nation. Shame on them!

  1. SCALABILITY: Getting the right kind of training partners, effective stakeholder management, till very recently scaling up and alignment of aspirations to current jobs is important.
  2. MISMATCH BETWEEN YOUTH ASPIRATIONS AND JOBS: Finding students to fill the classroom and getting the people to accept the job has been a difficult task.
  3. ENSURING MINIMUM WAGES: At present wages are linked with categorization of ‘skilled’, ‘semi-skilled’ or ‘unskilled’, but these have to be aligned with skill levels defined as per NSQF (National SkillsQualification Framework) and recognition of higher level of skills in terms of minimum wages is noted.

Way Forward

Macro and micro policies must be created to encourage workers to get skilled:

  • Include a minimum percentage of certified skilled work forces in the tendering process of every manpower intensive project and increase the minimum percentage every year.
  • At the local level, the industry could enforce it by ensuring that ancillary service providers like drivers, housekeeping, and security staff obtain skill certification.
  • Minimum wages need to be re-looked and aligned to the levels defined in the National Skills Qualification Framework.
  • The Government should establish adequate safeguards to check and balance corrupt practices of enrolment by the private partners.

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Jai Hind.

-Ribhu V.

India’s 3-Stage Civil Nuclear Power Programme

(Source of the complete post: Wikipedia)

According to Siegfried Hecker, former director, Los Alamos National Laboratory, U.S.,

“India has the most technically ambitious and innovative nuclear energy programme in the world. The extent and functionality of its nuclear experimental facilities are matched only by those in Russia and are far ahead of what is left in the US.”

India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Dr. Homi Bhabha in the 1950s to secure the country’s long term energy independence, through the use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India. The ultimate focus of the programme is on enabling the thorium reserves of India to be utilised in meeting the country’s energy requirements. Thorium is particularly attractive for India, as it has only around 1–2% of the global uranium reserves, but one of the largest shares of global thorium reserves at about 25% of the world’s known thorium reserves. However, thorium is not economically viable because global uranium prices are much lower.

The country published about twice the number of papers on thorium as its nearest competitors, during each of the years from 2002 to 2006. The Indian nuclear establishment estimates that the country could produce 500 GWe for at least four centuries using just the country’s economically extractable thorium reserves.

As of August 2014, India’s first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor had been delayed – with first criticality expected in 2015 – and India continued to import thousands of tonnes of uranium from Russia, Kazakhstan, France, and Uzbekistan. The recent India-Australia Nuclear Deal,  Indo-US Nuclear Deal, India-Canada Nuclear Deal and the NSG waiver (Nuclear Suppliers Group), which ended more than three decades of international isolation of the Indian civil nuclear programme, have created many hitherto unexplored alternatives for the success of the three-stage nuclear power programme.

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Dr. Homi Bhabha conceived of the three-stage nuclear programme as a way to develop nuclear energy by working around India’s limited uranium resources. Thorium itself is not a fissile material, and thus cannot undergo fission to produce energy. Instead, it must first be converted into the fissile isotope uranium-233 by transmutation in a reactor fueled by other fissile materials. The first two stages, natural uranium-fueled heavy water reactors and plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactors, are intended to generate sufficient fissile material from India’s limited uranium resources, so that all its vast thorium reserves can be fully utilised in the third stage of thermal breeder reactors.

In November 1954, Bhabha presented the three-stage plan for national development, at the conference on “Development of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes” which was also attended by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Four years later in 1958, the Indian government formally adopted the three-stage plan.  Indian government recognised that thorium was a source that could provide power to the Indian people for the long term.

File:Homi Jehangir Bhabha.jpg

Although India has only around 1–2% of the global uranium reserves, thorium reserves are bigger; around 12–33% of global reserves, according to IAEA and US Geological Survey. Several in-depth independent studies put Indian thorium reserves at 30% of the total world thorium reserves.

India is a leader of thorium based research. It is also by far the most committed nation as far as the use of thorium fuel is concerned, and no other country has done as much neutron physics work on thorium. The country published about twice the number of papers on thorium as its nearest competitors during each of the years from 2002 to 2006. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) had the highest number of publications in the thorium area, across all research institutions in the world during the period 1982-2004. During this same period, India ranks an overall second behind the United States in the research output on Thorium. Analysis shows that majority of the authors involved in thorium research publications appear to be from India.

  1. Stage I – Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR)

In the first stage of the programme, natural uranium fuelled pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR) produce electricity while generating plutonium-239 as by-product.

Natural uranium contains only 0.7% of the fissile isotope uranium-235. Most of the remaining 99.3% is uranium-238 which is not fissile but can be converted in a reactor to the fissile isotope plutonium-239.

Indian uranium reserves are capable of generating a total power capacity of 420 GWe-years, but the Indian government limited the number of PHWRs fueled exclusively by indigenous uranium reserves, in an attempt to ensure that existing plants get a lifetime supply of uranium. US analysts calculate this limit as being slightly over 13 GW in capacity. Several other sources estimate that the known reserves of natural uranium in the country permit only about 10 GW of capacity to be built through indigenously fueled PHWRs. The three-stage programme explicitly incorporates this limit as the upper cut off of the first stage, beyond which PHWRs are not planned to be built.

  1. Stage II – Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR)

In the second stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) would use a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium. In FBRs, plutonium-239 undergoes fission to produce energy, while the uranium-238 present in the mixed oxide fuel transmutes to additional plutonium-239. Thus, the Stage II FBRs are designed to “breed” more fuel than they consume. Once the inventory of plutonium-239 is built up thorium can be introduced as a blanket material in the reactor and transmuted to uranium-233 for use in the third stage.

The surplus plutonium bred in each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors, and might thus grow the Indian civil nuclear power capacity till the point where the third stage reactors using thorium as fuel can be brought online, which is forecasted as being possible once 50 GW of nuclear power capacity has been achieved. The uranium in the first stage PHWRs that yield 29 EJ of energy in the once-through fuel cycle, can be made to yield between 65 and 128 times more energy through multiple cycles in fast breeder reactors.

The design of the country’s first fast breeder, called Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), was done by Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR). Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini), a public sector company under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), has been given the responsibility to build the fast breeder reactors in India. The construction of this PFBR at Kalpakkam was due to be completed in 2012. It is not yet complete. A start date in 2015 has been suggested.

In addition, the country proposes to undertake the construction of four FBRs as part of the 12th Five Year Plan spanning 2012–17, thus targeting 2500 MW from the five reactors. One of these five reactors is planned to be operated with metallic fuel instead of oxide fuel, since the design will have the flexibility to accept metallic fuel, although the reference design is for oxide fuel. Indian government has already allotted Rs.250 crore for pre-project activities for two more 500 MW units, although the location is yet to be finalised. Because of the inherent danger in fast breeder reactors, there has been some talk of building the new ones underground.

Doubling time refers to the time required to extract as output, double the amount of fissile fuel, which was fed as input into the breeder reactors. This metric is critical for understanding the time durations that are unavoidable while transitioning from the second stage to the third stage of Bhabha’s plan, because building up a sufficiently large fissile stock is essential to the large deployment of the third stage.

  1. Stage III – Thorium Based Reactors (TBR)

A Stage III reactor or an advanced nuclear power system involves a self-sustaining series of thorium-232-uranium-233 fuelled reactors. This would be a thermal breeder reactor, which in principle can be refueled – after its initial fuel charge – using only naturally occurring thorium. According to the three-stage programme, Indian nuclear energy could grow to about 10 GW through PHWRs fueled by domestic uranium, and the growth above that would have to come from FBRs till about 50GW. The third stage is to be deployed only after this capacity has been achieved.

According to replies given in Q&A in the Indian Parliament on two separate occasions, 19 August 2010 and 21 March 2012, large scale thorium deployment is only to be expected “3 – 4 decades after the commercial operation of fast breeder reactors with short doubling time”. Full exploitation of India’s domestic thorium reserves will likely not occur until after the year 2050.

Parallel approaches

As there is a long delay before direct thorium utilisation in the three-stage programme, the country is now looking at reactor designs that allow more direct use of thorium in parallel with the sequential three-stage programme. Three options under consideration are the Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS), Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) and Compact High Temperature Reactor. Molten Salt Reactor may also be under consideration based on some recent reports.

Jai Hind.

Capture

5 Reasons on Why India urgently needs a Bullet Train Network

Future of Indian High Speed Rail

PM Modi is all set to embark on his first Japan visit as the PM tomorrow and the high speed bullet train project will be high on his agenda for discussions. The modern high speed bullet trains first originated in Japan in 1964. Japan is India’s biggest bilateral economic donor. Japan assisted India during the setting up of the Delhi Metro system. Therefore, ties between Japan and India extend beyond being ceremonial to being built on the foundation of concrete partnerships. Japan and India have the potential to create a more concrete partnership based on mutual trust and friendship. Friendship between Japan and India is all set to surge to a new higher level. The future is here now!

It is well known that projects such as: metro trains (MRTS-Mass Rapid Transit System), LRTS (Light Rapid Transit System), monorails, dedicated bus corridors, etc.; are in design, construction or feasibility study phase in numerous cities in India. It is therefore only reasonable that India must have high speed transit systems between the cities as well to make inter-city and inter-state transportation quick and safe.

Recently there were reports that India may opt for Maglev bullet trains (Magnetic Levitation) for the high speed rail network being planned for the country. This is a commendable decision given that India has an excellent opportunity to leapfrog into the next generation of bullet train technology simply because it does not have to replace any existing high speed network, problems that the developed nations in the world are facing. Maglev trains travel at higher speeds than conventional bullet trains due to reduced friction. The Maglev train typically gets lifted a few inches above the track when it races to its destination, thereby eliminating contact between the train and the tracks. It is a method of propulsion that uses magnetic levitation to propel vehicles with magnets rather than with wheels, axles and bearings.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is carrying out a joint study with India on the 534-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor, is expected to submit its second report in November. Currently, the JICA and French railway are involved in the feasibility study of the Rs. 62,000 crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. While the French report will focus on the project’s business development model, JICA’s study will cover alignment, scheduling, tariff, technology, traffic, funding pattern, environment and social impact, passenger profile, number of station among other aspects. A sum of Rs. 100 crore has been allocated in the Rail Budget for preparatory work of the bullet train project. The nations, France, Italy, China and Japan are competing to partner with India for the implementation of the project but China and Japan are the frontrunners in this race. While China is promoting low cost as its USP, Japan is pushing its higher safety records.

The argument that India is not yet ready to embrace high speed rail is irrational, misplaced and politically motivated. While it is admissible that not all will be able to afford travelling in a bullet train in the initial years, the consequent indirect benefits that will start to trickle in the near future far outweigh the costs associated with the building of this crucial infrastructure:-

  1. Economic Impact

First of all, when Japan had planned the construction of bullet train network after World War II, there were similar arguments against it as we are now having in India. Japan’s per capita GNP back then was also very similar to what it is in India right now. Not only did the bullet trains become profitable in 3 years’ time in Japan, they made journey between important cities so quick that it transformed the economic scenario of Japan. The Japanese “Shinkansen”(bullet train) has had a significant effect on Japan’s business, economy, society, environment and culture. The time savings alone from switching from a conventional to a high-speed network have been estimated at 400 million hours, an economic impact of ¥500 billion per year.

Shinkansen connectivity has rejuvenated rural towns and villages that would otherwise be too distant from major cities. They have made remote Japanese towns and villages accessible — stimulating rural economies. They have also dramatically improved city life. In Tokyo you’re never far away from snow, beach and onsen.

You can well imagine how a similar network for India could infuse the much needed investment in our village economies making them far more accessible and nearer to cities than today. It could bring far more villages and towns in the ambit of the “satellite towns” concept. Yoshiyuki Kasai, Chairman of the Central Japan Railway Company says that India does not have the choice but it has to build the high-speed railway system to achieve higher growth rate. According to him, “High-speed railway makes travel time between cities shorter by several hours. Due to this, different cities are integrated into a single economic lifezone. The long-term economic and social impact of such systems will be huge.”

  • Promoting manufacturing and utilizing the demographic dividend– India’s transition to “world’s back-office” has helped only the educated and skilled youth of the country. India needs to change itself into “world’s manufacturer” to provide job opportunities to the biggest youth population in the world. India is in an advantage position to take up the leadership position in manufacturing at the cost of China for next 20–30 years, because of India’s demographic dividend which is available for next 20 years or so, before it turns into demographic liability. But, India has plains in interior of India where it can set up large-scale manufacturing bases without causing much environmental degradation. India needs to build infrastructure to connect interior of India to seaports through mega infrastructure projects. High Speed Rail is one of such projects which can accelerate India’s growth rate
  • India’s double-digit GDP growth– “Investment cycle” created by the High Speed rail will result in India making a major jump to the double-digit growth rate. Indian economy will be converted from Social sector focused Expenditure based economy with 4–5% growth rate and low value jobs to the Investment based double digit growth rate economy with high-value jobs helping India to effectively use the Demographic Dividend for next 30 years, before it turns into a Demographic Liability without major pension reforms.
  • Poverty alleviation-India’s expenditure-based poverty alleviation has been a failure against the investment-based growth. GDP through job generation against the one-time subsidy payouts have helped India to uplift record number of people out of poverty, year after year. As seen in Japan, HSR lines bring along with them investment and prosperity.
  • Job generation– Micro, small, medium and large-scale industries will benefit by the HSR. A company manufacturing nut and bolts to the company working on high tech steel will all get benefited, taking India’s manufacturing share to 25% of the GDP. It all depends on the government’s domestic content, technology transfer and competitive-bidding policies.
  • Corporate muscle-flexing– Investment in this sector will result in genesis of companies with unmatchable know-how and money power, which will go on to acquire companies and invest in this sector across the world. India’s investment in airports, space, petroleum, telecommunication, renewable energy etc. have created companies, mainly in private sector which have gone international and acquired companies worldwide:- e.g. GMR (Istanbul and Mactan-Cebu), GVK (Bali airport), Airtel (Africa), Indian Oil, ISRO, ONGC Videsh, Suzlon (5th-largest in the world).
  • Tourism– Access to the eastern and north-eastern states (Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal and Odisha), Kashmir and South Indian states will be hours of travel from days. Foreign and domestic tourists can cover more places in the same time, thus bringing wealth to more places. Tourism may emerge as a major source of Income, if enabling environment is created.
  • Efficiency- The delay time per train per year of the Japanese Shinkansen is only 6 seconds! Enough said!!
  1. Safety

Personally, I am more for the Japanese “Shinkansen” than the lower cost Chinese version of it, due to Shinkansen’s best safety record in the world for high speed railways. Low cost is just a short term advantage while higher level of safety is a long term profitable bet according to me. Japanese bullet trains (Shinkansen) have the best safety record on the planet: beating conventional trains, automobiles and flying. They have served 7 billion passengers without a single passenger fatality due to a derailment or collision.
Japan was the first country to introduce an extensive bullet train system (1964). Since then, only one passenger has died as the result of an accident (involving the doors of a train). Trains now have a variety of systems and procedures to prevent this from happening again. The Shinkansen’s near-perfect safety record is remarkable considering that Japan is the most seismically active country in the world.

Shinkansens are wired into Japan’s earthquake early warning system. In most cases, a Shinkansen has time to brake before an earthquake arrives. While its automatic train control (ATC) keeps tabs on the distance to a train running in front and stops itself if necessary, the new Center-Fastened Brake Disc has high braking performance. The new braking system is also called an earthquake-triggered brake. When electric power is cut by an earthquake, the braking system detects it and automatically starts functioning. It also increases braking force applied to the disc by 15%. When the Great East Japan Earthquake hit in March 2011, 10 Shinkansen trains were speeding on a stretch hit hard between Fukushima and Iwate prefectures, including five trains running at 270 km/h. But all the trains were able to make an emergency stop and none of them derailed or rolled over. Another feature of the current Shinkansen is a fixed-speed travel device that automatically speeds up or slows down the train taking into consideration changing land conditions ahead on the line. The device stores in itself all data about steepness, bends and tunnels waiting down the line, calculates their impact on the running of a train and generates signals giving proper speed instructions. In normal times, Shinkansen trains are driven manually without the fixed-speed travel device online. But when the timetable is disrupted in bad weather, the device is switched on, allowing recovery from train delays much faster than before.

India needs bullet trains with similar systems as the northern plains lie on the mid-continental earthquake belt and so are prone to earthquakes.

Globally too, bullet trains have beaten other modes of transportation as the safest bet to travel.

Bullet trains will bring the much needed and additional dimension of safety in Indian Railways, especially when the country witnessed several severe train accidents in the previous year due to increasing passenger load, obsolete safety mechanisms and lack of coordination.

  1. Environmental Impact

Bullet trains produce much less air pollution than automobiles, planes and conventional trains. Traveling the Tokyo-Osaka line by Shinkansen produces only around 16% of the carbon dioxide of the equivalent journey by car, a saving of 15,000 tons of environmentally degrading carbon dioxide per year.

Long-distance travel (air and rail) will move away from petroleum-based inflationary fuel to the electricity, whose real cost of production is decreasing and is non-inflationary, as India is one of the biggest producer of renewable energy in the world.

  1. Rail Diplomacy

Like China, India too can have a chance at strengthening her economic and strategic partnerships with the neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar by building high speed rail links for transportation across the border. This can lead to cross border integration in all aspects: cultural, economic, tourism, security, etc. International tourist circuits in South Asia on similar lines of European tourist circuits could be formed.

  1. National Integration

India has multiple cultures and languages, as the rivers, mountains and forests have hindered the people to people contact. This has an impact even now as regionalism and communalism have an upper hand in national politics rather than patriotism. High speed railways will change that as India will move to a single identity and culture, similar to what happened in Japan after the introduction of bullet trains.

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Here are some pictures from my travel in China:-

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—> Yeah, that’s me 😀

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—>The speedometer inside the bullet train showing travel speed of 285 kmph!!

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—>No, this is not an airport, it is a railway station!!

http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=109178

-Ribhu V.