India's anticipated underwater bullet train is one step closer to completion.
The Indian government has announced that it is in the process of purchasing 18 E5 series Shinkansen train sets from Japan for 70 billion rupees (approximately $964 million USD), the Economic Times reported. Before acquiring the trains, India will request Japanese train manufacturers to participate in a tender.
"Each train will have 10 coaches and would be able to cruise at the speed of 350 km per hour," an official told the Economic Times. At these high speeds, the 315-mile-route will reduce the seven- to eight-hour journey down to two or three hours.
What makes this announcement particularly exciting is that, should the "proposed route map" get approved, travelers can expect to travel underwater for 13 of those miles — from Thane Creek to Virar — by way of a submerged corridor.
According to the Economic Times, economy fares are estimated to cost around 3,000 rupees (about $41 USD), and first class will have amenities comparable to those offered by airlines.
In order to pay for the project, the Indian government is receiving a soft loan of 880 billion rupees (approximately $12 billion USD) — to be paid over 50 years with a 0.1% annual interest rate — from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
As part of the deal, Indian Railways is also building a local manufacturing plant for bullet trains, and the company will be "inviting bids" from companies like Japanese-based Kawasaki and Hitachi to construct an additional facility under the Make in India program.
However, the project is not without controversy. Business Insider India reported that the company is facing resistance from landowners in Gujarat and Maharashtra, who are demanding government jobs and higher compensation. The National High Speed Rail Corporation hopes to resolve this issue and seal the deal by December 2018.
Should this happen, construction may begin as soon as January 2019, with the project scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.