bullet-train22 on May 26, 18 on May 04, 37 on February 17, 9 on January 8, 26 on December [1] and the list goes on. These numbers represent the safety levels of our current railway system, with world’s largest track networking of over 65,436 km via 12671 passenger trains and 7421 freight trains [2]. The number in the starting represents the count of people who lost their lives (let alone the people who got injured) in railway accidents that happened this year. Current average speed of Indian trains varies from 59 to 90 km/h and we still generate accidents and deaths that would leave behind many of the countries possessing high speed bullet trains. When Indian politicians talk about bringing bullet trains to India telling about its safety and speed, a large chunk of population gets mesmerized by the imagination of sitting in a high speed bullet train going at a speed of over 300 km/h in the year 2022 (date proposed by rail ministry) [3], shouldn’t we think about the threat to safety and a hole in already sinking GDP rate it will cause to India.

     India has a fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP and a current account deficit of $45 billion [4], 27.5% in rural and 13.7% in urban areas are still below poverty line [5] and we also have the largest number of illiterate people compared to any country, but still we want to experience the luxury of sitting in bullet train when 60% population is in rural areas. Whom are the politicians really focussing at by bringing bullet trains, does investing 1000s of crore to decrease the time taken between Ahmedabad and Mumbai [6] by a couple of hours is justifiable. Indian middle class along with the lower and poor class comprises 99% of our population and they are already annoyed, angry and feeling cheated by the recent 14.2 % increase in the rail fare [7] , then how can they justify spending crore of money on projects that would be utilised only by the rich 1% Indians.

Recently Indian railways received two big blows from terrorist activities, one at Chennai Station and the other one in Bihar. Two blasts happened in Bangalore Express killing one person and injuring over 14 [8], [9] and New Delhi-Kolkata Rajdhani express was derailed through blasts, what was known as a Maoists attack, injuring many [10]. We are fighting on all fronts with terrorism both from outside and inside, trains are derailed every now and then, coaches are blasted killing people. If the number of causalities during a mishap in a train at a speed of 80 km/h is so much then for a bullet train it would be a catastrophe. Many might argue about the pride, bullet train will bring, critical futuristic needs it would be addressing, much smaller countries like Taiwan are having, so we should also have, travel time would decrease, would be beneficial in the long run, but the thing to focus on is , is it’s viable to spend 60,000 crore on Mumbai-Pune corridor [11] , to acquire agriculture lands on large scale, neglect the basic necessities of life like education, clothing and a healthy habitat and just focus on trying to reduce the travel time by a few hours. Development is a thing no-one can neglect today, everyone has to be ahead and be on a global front but one should try to set right what he possess, before heading into a totally new direction. So, India for sure should have a bullet train but not now, now is not the time.

Resources-

  1. http://164.100.47.134/intranet/Indianrailway.pdf
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Railway_Catering_and_Tourism_Corporation
  3. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-07-13/news/51429513_1_bullet-train-mumbai-ahmedabad-high-speed-rail-corridor-dedicated-freight-corridor
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_India
  5. http://indiantake.blogspot.in/2010/01/size-of-india-middle-class.html
  6. http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/railway-budget-2014-first-bullet-train-mumbai-ahmedabad/1/207941.html
  7. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Govt-rethink-on-suburban-railway-fare-hike-may-be-in-phases/articleshow/37103886.cms
  8. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/Bomb-Blast-at-Chennai-Central-Railway-Station/2014/05/01/article2199736.ece
  9. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-05-01/news/49552011_1_blasts-guwahati-bound-train-railway-police
  10. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/maoists-blow-up-railway-track-near-gaya-in-bihar-bhubaneswar-rajdhani/1/373666.html
  11. http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/all-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-rs-60k-cr-mumbai-ahmedabad-bullet-train-555469
  12. http://indiantake.blogspot.in/2010/01/size-of-india-middle-class.html
  13. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/chronology-of-major-train-accidents-in-recent-years/
  14. http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/3088/economics/pros-and-cons-of-high-speed-rail-hs2/
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