India took a big step forward in constructing its first high-speed rail line this week. The India National High Speed Rail Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tokyo-based Japan Railway Track Consultants Company for track-design work on a 72-mile segment of high-speed line. It’s part of a 316-mile line that will run from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, with 12 intermediate stops.

Construction on the line began earlier this year. The projected completion date for the full line is 2028. Its estimated cost is $15 billion.

India’s system will use modified Japanese Shinkansen E5 bullet trains with a passenger capacity of 750 people. The trains, running at maximum speeds of nearly 220 mph, will have an operational speed of about 200 mph. More than 90 percent (286 miles) of the tracks will be on elevated viaducts running roughly 11 to 16 yards above the ground. Nearly six miles of the line will be bridges. About 16 miles will be tunnels, including a tunnel of more than four miles that will be built underwater to preserve a nearby flamingo and mangrove sanctuary.

The trains are expected to depart every 20 minutes during peak hours, and there will be up to 35 trains each day, in each direction.

This project is the first high-speed line in what will be a vast expansion of high-speed rail in India over the next few decades. More than 3,000 miles of high-speed line are in the planning stages. Another 1,500 miles of line have been proposed in a draft of the nation’s “National Rail Plan,” released in 2020 by India’s Ministry of Railways.

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