From enabling faster passenger traffic between cities to providing a safer & reliable mode of transport, and from opening a world of employment opportunities to introducing of high quality technology in the country; there are many factors that will determine the economic success of the High Speed Rail (HSR) project in the country. But the most significant among them being the local impact a project of this magnitude can create that could prove to be a major ingredient in the socio-economic appraisal of not just places, industries and people residing along the project corridor but also those across the country.
Since the introduction of first Shinkansen in Japan in 1964, high-speed trains have proven to be an undeniable technological, commercial and popular success. Many countries since then have adopted the technology and invested in what today has become a vast network of high-speed rail lines. Most notable among them being countries like U.K, France, Germany, Spain, China and most recently U.S.A, Australia and South Africa among others. While the motivation behind investing in a technology like HSR may differ for each country, the end vision remains the same: alleviate the overall quality of life by providing people with better social, economic and employment opportunities while benefitting the environment as well.
True, while in India the 508 km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project is still underway, there are countries who have in the past adopted HSR and are now in the process of expansion because its efficiency resulted in a positive long-term spillover effect in the regions served by it. Does it not make for a compelling case ready for India to replicate and improve its standing on a global platform? The opinion makers may question the suitability of developing an expensive infrastructure such as HSR at a time when the world economy is unstable. But the silver lining is that by focusing on developing a project like this right now can reap long term socio-economic benefits that in turn can elevate India’s position as a stable and sustainable economic power in the times to come.
Here’s looking at the many layers of the economic benefits India’s marquee Bullet Train project can generate and its overall impact on the people.
It has been observed globally that countries or cities that have HSR network are more competitive and are better positioned to attract tourism, businesses, jobs, and skilled workforce. Look around and you’ll see countries like Japan, Germany, France, UK, South Korea, USA and Russia that have successfully adapted the HSR technology and have seen an upsurge in their economic status. As a developing economy, India’s chances of matching up to these bigger economies can get a boost with the completion of Bullet Train project as it will not only put India at a higher pedestal of technology & connectivity but also open doors for more foreign investment, development of new businesses and enhanced lifestyle for many. To understand how, read further.
- A stitch in time:- HSR world over have proven to be a great time saver. Because they are reliable and promise faster and efficient transportation of passengers, it helps them save time, energy and money. With the completion of the MAHSR project, the travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be brought down to under 2 hours, which otherwise by road is around 8-9 hrs (depending on the traffic situation) and by plane is 4-5 hrs (including time taken to reach the airport from the destination, check-in, boarding, total flight & landing time) right now. People who often commute between these two states for business or work purpose can this way reach their destination much faster, carry out their work and even return to their hometown in much lesser time and at lower cost. To top it, they can save some energy for the next day’s grind as well- all in a days’ time. Being stuck in traffic for longer hours adds stress to daily life that often leads to lower productivity. With ease of connectivity that the HSR project offers, people working along the belt of the corridor can take a sigh of relief. Also, the money saved here can be pumped back in the businesses, which can in turn help boost the economic prospects of not just individuals but also that of the country’s overall economy.
- An all-weather friend:-While monsoon season bring with it the cheer of respite from the scorching heat, it does have a downside to it too. Waterlogging leads to traffic congestion and road blockages everywhere and being stranded on the road for hours becomes a norm. With people spending most of the time stranded on the roads, not being able to reach their destination on time, flight cancellations, train delays, meetings getting cancelled…all this leads to a loss of a lot of money not just for individuals or businesses but to overall economy as well. Now Bullet Train may not be the ultimate solution to dealing with the monsoon situation in the country and nor does it promise to provide answer to commute woes during monsoon but since it can operate in all weather conditions, it can indeed provide some relief in the traffic congestion situations during not just monsoon but any other weather problem like hail, storm etc. Look at this way, HSRs are not subject to road congestions so they operate on schedule every day without delay- especially during peak travel time or rush hours. A strong case for this has been built by Japanese Bullets Trains, which are globally known for their punctuality and known to run efficiently during all seasons. Such is the reputation of the trains that when a delay happens even by a matter of seconds, it makes for national headlines and apologies to the passengers are issued. It does help that the technology being used to lay the tracks, designing of the train and other matters related to its operations is world-class. Confidence can be drawn from the fact that a similar operational & management efficiency is expected in India with the completion of the project since it’s the same Japanese technology that will form the base of our first Bullet Train project. With more and more people reaching their destinations on time and without any hassle, it will become another reason for enhanced productivity at work and money being pumped in the economy.
- A great economic connector:-Not just people, but even cities along the line of the corridor are expected to have greater connectivity and experience a jump in their socio-economic status. All the 12 stations of the project -- BKC, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati – are expected to gain big time with the completion of the project. HSR projects in various countries has successfully spurred the revitalisation of smaller towns and cities and bridged the gap between metropolitan and tier 1, 2 and 3 cities by opening up avenues of not just commute but also of mixed land use, employment, tourism and business. Here are some benefits of making inroads in smaller towns with Bullet train and how it can foster economic development in smaller cities and towns along the project route:
An HSR project like Bullet train can link cities together into an integrated region that can then function as a single stronger economy. Example: Vapi is famous as the city of chemicals. As the largest industrial area in Gujarat in terms of small scale industries, imagine the kind of impact it can make to the economy of not just Gujarat but that of the country if it has better connectivity to a financial hub like that of Mumbai. Faster connectivity between the two cities using the HSR can give a jump to the demand for the products being produced in Vapi, which can lead to a positive effect on the entire production chain. With the similar model replicated for all the other cities along the length of the HSR project corridor, one can expect nothing but a great deal of economic surge in the country.
Greater need for production means increased need for labour and other workforce. An HSR project can have a direct as well indirect impact on the labour market as well. Direct impact can be seen from the skilled workforce that would be required immediately for the work related to the project. According to an estimate, the bullet train project is expected to create 4,000 direct job opportunities, along with 35000 to 40000 indirect jobs. Approximately, 40,000 construction workers are also expected to be employed during the set up period of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train. Now imagine this number only going up as and when each phase of the construction is executed and the new one is put in place. This aside, there will also be a jump in the need of skilled workforce to work in big and small industries and other projects that will stem along the project corridor.
MAHSR will also give rise to the tourism industry along the corridor. Be it Upvan Lake in Thane, Arnala Fort in Virar, Wilson hills in Vapi or Gira Falls in Bilimora, the corridor is filled with numerous tourist attractions. It also includes historical sites like Pavagadh Fort (Anand), Surat Castle (Surat), Lakshmi Vilas Palace (Vadodara) among many others. Places like Dang Darbar in Bilimora, Dashashwamedh Ghat in Bharuch, Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati will make you witness the true culture of these places. Advent of Bullet Train will catapult the tourism sector of this area resulting in giving boost to the hospitality industry as well. Moreover, the HSR Stations will also act as destination spots and will enhance the economic activities.
From mixed use real-estate development to hospitality & tourism and from needing labour in big and small industries that will eventually come up in the area to the need for engineers, architects, designers, manufacturers, skill development & training, logistics, marketers et al; the need is only going to go up hitherto. It will also offer workers a wider network of employers to choose from. Surge in jobs would mean more influx of money which in a way can help the economy at both state and country level to grow as well.
For someone running businesses in both Mumbai & Ahmedabad, HSR project will not only make travelling between the two cities easy but also cut on the cost and time that they’d incur while travelling through roadways or airways.
- A skill development booster:-For any country to climb up the ladder of social & economic prosperity, its human resource can be a critical and essential determinant. Low skills perpetuate poverty and inequality whereas skill development can reduce unemployment, raise income and overall improve the standard of living of people and communities. Therefore, a project like the Bullet Train India makes a lot of economic sense as it is not only going to open up doors for employment generation but also skill development for the existing as well as potential workforce. For people belonging to smaller towns and cities, lack of opportunities is one problem but lack of skills to be able to identify an opportunity and make something out of it is a bigger one. Low to no basic skills leave them with limited job options and little chance of realising their full productive potential. The challenge is further exacerbated by a rapidly changing global economy that demands innovation and gregariousness from workforces at every step. With new innovative projects and technologies coming into the country, we see a lot of potential for the young workers to upgrade their skills, learn newer ways of working and have a critical scaffolding that can help them move ahead in their careers and plan for a better future for themselves and their families.
For the Bullet Train project in particular, both India and Japan is going to play a major role in helping train the employed workforce of the project to develop skills that make more economic sense. As part of the transfer of technology, employees will be sent to Japan as well as be trained here in the country. Since, the technology used for the project is coming from Japan, gaining mastery of the tools, technology, material and systems will help the workforce to adapt effectively to higher global demands going forward. It will increase their prospect to stay relevant in the constantly changing landscape of technology and have access to better and improved systems and procedures which when applied to any field can yield benefits.
Not just the top notch management, even those who will be working directly on the ground for the project, will be given equal opportunities to learn and grow. Regular training and skill development can help them stay relevant and in some cases even spark an entrepreneurial streak or higher earnings which eventually can reap in economic stability for them as well as for the country. Engineers, ground workers, management trainees, PR executives, architects, consultants, designers, town planners, construction workers, the list of beneficiaries is as long as the opportunities that awaits them.
Along with this, in order to establish smooth operations of MAHSR and to generate a work force that is effective& equipped with high level of knowledge, NHSRCL is developing a world-class HSR Training Institute in Vadodara, Gujarat. At its completion, the institute is expected to become the hub of knowledge, technology for skilled engineers and operators who will be at the core of delivering excellent service quality. The HSR Training Institute will be imparting training through customized training programs for fields as diverse as Construction, Project Implementation & Management, Operations, Maintenance, and Customer Care among others.
- A beacon of hope for ‘Make in India’:-Another interesting aspect of the project is giving thrust to the ‘Make In India’ initiative.
The amalgamation of Japan’s technology and India’s expertise in creating world-class parts can prove to be a boon for the project. As part of Transfer of Technology (ToT) aspect of the project, for the parts that are to be made in India, Japan will share their blueprints and methodology behind their creation with their Indian counterparts. Further then, India, under the ‘Make in India’ scheme, will then replicate and recreate these elements related to the project as per the terms of the plan.
It is through the promotion of these two drivers that India will set up manufacturing facilities in the country, generate new jobs, upgrade the skills of its existing workforce, give a boost to allied industries (steel, cement, electrical components & infrastructure etc.) and get a toehold on the new and upcoming technologies being used by Japan.
While the technical prowess will be brought in from Japan, Indian companies will play a major role in India-level requirements such as creation of parts as well as fitting the tracks when complete. Target items for ‘Make In India’ & ‘Transfer of Technology’ mainly include in the field for Track Works, Electrical Work, Civil Works.
You can also find brief details of the following item under “Make In India” on our website
- OHE Steel Mast
- Rail Turnover Prevention Device
- Embedded Inserts
- Cement Asphalt Mortar (CAM)
Going forward, Japanese companies may even consider setting up manufacturing facilities for bullet trains in India. This would give an impetus to not just more employment generation but also opening up avenues for small and big manufacturers to upgrade their skills and demonstrate their manufacturing might for various other projects at a global level.
6. A real-estate boomer:-A project like Bullet train needs support of an equally world-class infrastructure. With the increase in passenger movement along the length of the project corridor, it is but given that other big small real-estate projects like schools, townships, commercial hubs, industrial buildings, independent houses, big and small retail and commercial shops, office complexes, entertainment hubs, Hospitality (highways, railway sheds etc). will also come up. With so much of economic activity happening around these towns, a boom in the real-estate market of these areas cannot be underestimated. This will give real estate developers and buyers ample time to plan ahead their purchases. No doubt, there will be plenty of development opportunities along the 508 km route of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project. For example, Boisar has become one of the most interesting prospects as it falls in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) but is still perceived as an inaccessible destination. This will change, thanks to the Bullet Train, as Boisar will be closer to Mumbai at a mere 40 minutes train ride and make it a more viable prospect for those looking to live and work from outside but closer to Mumbai. This means that if people invest at the right time, they will be able to afford a 3-BHK in Boisar with the money they will pay for a 2-BHK anywhere in the city. With more people coming and staying in these places, a boost in business of ancillary industries and other amenities in the mix like malls, shops, hospitals, educational institutes, hostels, hotels, restaurants etc., will also have to be developed. This again leads to a better economic prospect for the country.
7. A great social leveller:-The HSR development overall will bring in positive results for those involved in the process directly or indirectly. Right from project beneficiaries to those who will be providing construction or any other kind of support, improved standards of living await on the upside. Improvement and better opportunities for livelihood is at the center of the planning of the HSR project, therefore, one can expect a more efficient economy going forward. For those who have given up their personal land for the project, an upliftment from their previous lifestyle beckons. With more money flowing in the family, they can provide better education to their children and increase their prospect of a prosperous life ahead. Proper foundational training and skill development and acquisition of technical knowledge can help most of these families gain a better social standing as well as explore means of economic returns that they had not earlier thought of.