Rethink Indian bullet train project

The opinion piece in the April 26 edition headlined “Is the Indo-Japan rail project a boondoggle?” was correct and timely.

Haphazard policies of the Indian government, such as making the railway elevated for 90 percent of its length, from the originally planned 28 percent, would triple the cost of construction and Japan could get bogged down in the absence of a clear understanding of who should share the additional burden.

India needs a high-speed network covering entire subcontinent, not a showpiece between just two cities simply because one of them is in the prime minister’s home state.

If Japan were to dissociate itself from the bullet train project citing mighty cost and time escalations and offered to spend the same amount to revamp the entire India rail system, we Indians would be thankful and grateful to Japan forever as it would be a case of money well spent.

This bullet train could be an economic disaster as the fares will be greater than or equal to current airline fares. It would need to make 50 trips per day fully loaded to be cost-effective. We don’t even have one-tenth of that many airline passengers flying daily between the two cities.

If the Japanese project fails economically, all future investments will slow down. On the other hand, rebuilding the entire India rail network would get your country far better visibility and returns.

MAHESH K. RATHI
KOLKATA, INDIA

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.