Expected Impacts of the Bullet Train in India


India is building its first bullet train which will be connecting the cities of Ahmedabad and Mumbai. India is partnering with Japan to develop this massive project. The bullet train will complete an eight-hour journey from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in three hours. There will be 10 stations in-between the two megacities. The bullet train will run at speed of 220 mph, covering a distance of 310 miles. The project is expected to start in 2022. This paper dives into the expected impact of the bullet train in India. Reviewing the successful examples of bullet trains in other Asian cities like Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai, this paper analyzes the effect on accessibility to the megacities Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Accessibility is calculated using the “Gravity-type accessibility measure”. Two factors considered for the “number of opportunities” measure in calculating the accessibility are commercial opportunities and employment opportunities. Ahmedabad and Mumbai are considered as destination and accessibility is assessed from each of the in-between 10 stations. Results show that bullet trains would enhance accessibility to the megacities Ahmedabad and Mumbai from the in-between second and third tier cities when compared to cars and conventional railway. The in-between stations show affinity towards Mumbai when commercial opportunities are observed as the factor of attractiveness. But accessibility evaluation depicts Ahmedabad as the preferred location, when employment opportunities are pull factor. Further analysis on interregional development is conducted to observe the expected effects of the bullet train.


Japan and India have partnered to launch the first Bullet Train project in India. The bullet train will connect the Indian city of Ahmedabad with Mumbai. It will be 500 km (310 mile) route, with 10 stations in between. The in-between ten stations include second -tier cities Sabarmati, Vadodra and Surat in the state of Gujarat and Thane and Virar in Maharashtra state, and third-tier cities, Anand, Bharuch, Bilimora, Vapi and Boisar. The bullet train will cover an eight-hour long train journey within three hours.

Ahmedabad is located in the Indian state of Gujarat. It has a population of 5.6 million. It is a key economic and industrial hub for India. It is the second largest producer of cotton in the country. After the liberalization of Indian economy, Ahmedabad has focused its growth in commerce, communication and construction. Ahmedabad is provided with a metro rail MEGA and a BRTS system which makes the city closely knit. Ahmedabad is connected to Mumbai by National Highway 48 and the Western Railway rail link.

Mumbai is the commercial center of India. It is the second most populous city in India with a population of 18 million. It is the wealthiest city in India generating 6% of the nation’s GDP, which includes 25% of the industrial output and 70% of the maritime trade. Key financial institutions of India such as Reserve Bank of India, Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange are located in Mumbai. Mumbai’s economy is based on IT, finance, commerce, entertainment, heavy industries and port. Mumbai Suburban Railway, Monorail, Metro and buses serve as Mumbai’s public transport.

The bullet train project aims to start its first ride in August 2022.  India has been granted $17 billion loan from Japan to execute this project. The project has been receiving a lot of critique. Opponents of the project believe that this project might be one of the biggest economic blunder by the prime minister of India Mr.Narendra Singh Modi. After the demonetization of Indian rupee, the GDP went down to 6.1% in the quarter January-March 2016 from 7.6% in 2015-2016, making India lose the title of fastest growing economy. The opponents believe that there are far more important projects the prime minister should shift his focus towards such as education in rural areas, developing infrastructure in small towns and Smart Cities. They also think that by the time project finishes, government would change, Indian rupee will devalue to Japanese yen and the country will be in huge debt to Japan. But the advocates of the Bullet Train project say that the project would enhance mobility between two economic centers of India. The project would boost real estate opportunities in the regions linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad. It would increase job opportunities and encourage international investments leading to overall national growth.

Besides the pioneers of bullet trains, Japan, countries which have seen success in bullet trains include China and South Korea. The bullet train in Korea, KTX, started in 2004, with its first line connecting Seoul and Busan. These trains run at a speed of 190 mph. The corridor connecting Seoul to Busan is an important corridor in the country. In the mid 1980’s it inhabited 65% of Korea’s population, eventually grew to 70% by the mid 1990’s. It also carried 70% of the freight traffic in the country and 65% of the passenger traffic. The Gyeonbu Expressway and Korails’ Gyeonbu line could not hold onto the escalating capacity,so the Korean government in the late 1970’s started to think to bring a new mode of transportation. Hence, they started the construction of KTX in 1992.

The China Railway Corporation introduced bullet trains in China in 2007. The bullet trains in China cover 29 of its 33 provinces. Notable bullet train lines in China include the Beijing – Guangzhou line, which is the world’s longest high-speed rail line having a length of 1428 miles and Shanghai Maglev which the world’s first high speed commercial alleviation track, with trains running at a speed of 267 mph.

After reviewing the success of bullet trains in South Korea and China this paper posits the question “What are the expected impacts of bullet trains in India?”. The paper analyzes the expected impacts of bullet trains in India by assessing the accessibility index of the stations in between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The accessibility index is measured by using “Gravity-type accessibility measure” formula.

Literature Review

Impact of South Korea’s Bullet Train

Kim Chun-Hwan (2005), assessed the impacts of KTX in South Korea. He found that the significant congestion on Seoul-Busan corridor led to a higher logistics cost. After seeing the success of Japan’s bullet train system, bullet trains prove to be efficient in long distance and mass transport. In terms of transport efficiency, operation hours, construction cost and line capacity, bullet trains were evidently two to three times better than conventional motorway or rails.  Unlike passengers in other countries who faced significant decrease in train services when bullet trains were launched, South Korea repurposed large numbers of non-express trains where KTX was inaccessible. The initial aim was to use KTX at 96% of the 46 train sets to enhance availability, but it took longer than expected to stabilize KTX systems. This caused the authorities to reduce the availability to 70% and the eventually increase over time. No serious cancellations were witnessed with beginning of KTX service. Punctuality was a key factor, it reached 97% of the 126 average daily trips.

KTX received several criticisms from the Korean mass media. They stated that the seats in the train were too narrow for the economy class. The fixed seats could not be turned toward the train’s travel direction. It was observed that many of these problems occurred due to KTX’s focused efforts on punctuality and economic efficiency.

KTX made severe impact on decentralization by increasing the train commuter between regions and large cities. Several urban renewal programs enhanced real estate as accessibility to KTX became a critical factor in seeking new businesses. KTX has resulted in widespread reduction in travel times. It has extended its commuting radius. It has amplified transport capacity. KTX has led to a rise in rail market share and the airline passengers have also decreased.

Effect of Chinese bullet trains

With the coming of bullet trains in China second and third tier cities became closer to the megacities. Workers and firms who do not require frequent meetings with government officials and agency heads could relocate away from the megacity for reduced rents. They can still enjoy the social benefits of megacity while avoiding daily quality of life. The bullet train has reduced travel time. (Siqi Zheng, Kahn, 2013). According to Wenjie Wu, Yutian Lang and Di Wu (2016), bullet trains’ accessibility analysis have three key aspects, interregional accessibility improvement effect, changing travel times and equality analysis of policies.  Bullet trains display “corridor effect”. Some hubs near the bullet trains offered faster corridor connect. A spatial cluster is built around bullet trains in regions with high population density. In comparison with conventional train bullet train network reinforces better transportation flows (Jing Cao, Xioyue Cathy Liu, Yinhai Wang, Qinguan Li, 2013)

Integrating landuse and transportation is a great headway to reverse the dependency of cities in automobile, especially in developing countries. It helps them to follow the path of sustainable development. Investments in transit during the period of growth paves way for appreciable landuse development in the future. Developing cities can have several long-term benefits if they take measures in the early stages of growth of transit. Transit development accelerates decentralization. Multi-nucleated development like transit oriented development can lead to sustainable growth of a city unlike the ones fostered by highways. Radial high-capacity transit systems keep downtown viable. For fixed guideway transit development to induce large scale landuse investments, they must provide geographic coverage and regional accessibility.

Data and Methodology

An Accessibility Index is calculated for the 10 stops between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. So, the destination considered for each of these 10 stops is Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The data collected to measure accessibility index includes travel time, employment opportunities and commercial land use. The travel time includes time taken to travel by car, train and bullet trains.

The accessibility index is evaluated by using the “Gravity-type measure of accessibility”. It is a mathematical formula based on Newton’s gravitation theory. This formula determines the attractiveness between two cities by comparing the attractiveness factors such as employment opportunities or commercial opportunities and impedance factor such as travel time of cars over trains.

Ai = ∑Oif(Cij),             f(Cij) = dij-b

i: origin (home) zone;

j: destination zone

Oj: Number of opportunities in zone j

dij: travel time between zone I and j

b: impedance function parameter

Two different accessibility indexes are calculated. The first accessibility index is calculated where the “attractive factor” or “number of opportunities” in the destination zone is the commercial opportunities. In order to calculate this landuse dedicated to commercial areas is taken into consideration. In the second accessibility index, number of jobs is considered for number of opportunities in the destination zone. Impedance factor in both the cases is considered as 1.

Table 1 Travel Time

Time to reach Mumbai (in minutes) Time to reach Ahmedabad (in minutes)
Bullet Trains Cars Train Bullet Trains Cars Trains
Boisar 33 135 150 136 420 480
Anand 139 460 350 23 80 80
Bilimora 66 240 240 95 280 240
Sabarmati 160 570 560 3 25 45
Vadodra 123 380 320 33 120 120
Bharuch 100 360 300 57 180 190
Surat 85 285 240 80 250 240
Vapi 52 180 150 107 320 280
Virar 20 80 80 145 420 390
Thane 7 30 20 153 450 480

(Source: Google Maps)

Table 2 Number of Opportunities in Destination Zone

Commercial Area (in hectares) Number of Jobs
Mumbai 1045 2248273
Ahmedabad 263 5571000

(Source: Draft MMR Plan Report, 2016-36, Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, City Development Plan (2006-12) and (2011-2021))

Though Ahmedabad shows higher number of jobs in comparison to Mumbai, but Mumbai has higher per capita income than Ahmedabad.

City Per Capita Income
Ahmedabad  $                5,487.00
Mumbai  $              11,372.00

(Source: https://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Location=Mumbai-(Bombay)-Maharashtra/Salary)

According to a recent article by Ahmedabad’s local newspaper, Ahmedabad Mirror it was reported that though the state of Gujarat (Indian state in which Ahmedabad is located) has the lowest unemployment rate of 0.7% compared to the national unemployment rate of 5%, people of Gujarat are not getting well payed jobs. People graduating with a baccalaureate degree and above are not getting jobs which matches their education qualification. (Niyati Rana, 2017)

Table 3 Accessibility Index with respect to Commercial Opportunities

Destination Zone Mumbai Ahmedabad
Accessibility Index Bullet Trains Car Train Bullet Trains Car Train
Boisar 31.38 7.74 6.97 1.94 0.63 0.55
Anand 7.52 2.27 2.99 11.69 3.29 3.29
Bilimora 15.91 4.35 4.35 2.77 0.94 1.10
Sabarmati 6.54 1.83 1.87 97.43 10.52 5.85
Vadodra 8.48 2.75 3.27 7.90 2.19 2.19
Bharuch 10.46 2.90 3.48 4.62 1.46 1.38
Surat 12.31 3.67 4.35 3.28 1.05 1.10
Vapi 20.25 5.81 6.97 2.45 0.82 0.94
Virar 53.59 13.06 13.06 1.82 0.63 0.67
Thane 151.45 34.83 52.25 1.72 0.58 0.55

Table 4 Number of Opportunities with respect to Number of Jobs

Destination Zone Mumbai Ahmedabad
Accessibility Index Bullet Trains Car Train Bullet Trains Car Train
Boisar 67515.71 16653.87 14988.49 41084.07 13264.29 11606.25
Anand 16186.27 4887.55 6423.64 247600 69637.50 69637.5
Bilimora 34220.29 9367.80 9367.80 58765.82 19896.43 23212.5
Sabarmati 14060.49 3944.34 4014.77 2063333 222840.00 123800
Vadodra 18234.17 5916.51 7025.85 167297.3 46425.00 46425
Bharuch 22505.24 6245.20 7494.24 97736.84 30950.00 29321.05263
Surat 26481.43 7888.68 9367.80 69550.56 22284.00 23212.5
Vapi 43571.18 12490.41 14988.49 51871.51 17409.38 19896.42857
Virar 115296.1 28103.41 28103.41 38447.2 13264.29 14284.61538
Thane 325836.7 74942.43 112413.65 36411.76 12380.00 11606.25


So, we observe that Thane has the largest accessibility index for commercial opportunities with the destination as Mumbai, whereas Sabarmati has the largest accessibility index with Ahmedabad as destination. Thane’s accessibility index with destination as Mumbai is way higher compared to Sabarmati’s accessibility index with destination as Ahmedabad. Thus, it’s a clear indication that Mumbai offers larger commercial opportunities compared to Ahmedabad and the in between 10 stations would want to be more accessible to Mumbai. 7 out of the 10 stations in between have a higher accessibility index when Mumbai is considered as the destination zone. This depicts that these stations have the potential to be decentralized nodes of Mumbai. People can move into these cities which provides cheap house values and still enjoy the commercial benefits provided by Mumbai such as shopping centers, restaurants etc. Companies can move their static departments, which do not require to meet the organization heads or government officials often, to these locations to save cost on office space.

When accessibility index is compared between bullet trains, cars and trains, with Mumbai as the destination, bullet trains have extremely high accessibility index compared to cars and trains. This shows that bullet trains can offer faster mobility, increase the proximity of the second and third tier cities, the 10 in-between stations to the megacity Mumbai.

When comparing the accessibility index of the 10 in between stations with respect to number of jobs as the opportunity factor, it is seen that Sabarmati has the largest accessibility index with Ahmedabad as the destination. It is higher compared to Thane which has the largest accessibility index when the destination is Mumbai. It is observed that Ahmedabad having twice the job opportunities compared to Mumbai, 6 out of 10 the in-between stations show affinity towards Ahmedabad has more accessible job providing location. But due to the low paying jobs and lack of jobs for skillful and academically qualified people, Mumbai would remain location of choice for finding high paying job opportunities.

Even, if Mumbai remains the location choice for employment opportunities, bullet trains still provide better accessibility to Mumbai compared to cars and trains.


Based on the evaluation of accessibility index it is seen that Bullet trains provide better accessibility to megacities Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The bullet trains would decentralize housing options and commercial development opportunities in the 10 in-between cities. People can find cheaper housing options in the in-between cities and still access Mumbai and Ahmedabad (see Appendix 1). The decentralization can increase bullet train commuters reducing the roadway and conventional railway capacity resulting in less congestion on highway National Highway 48. Decentralization can lead to multi-nucleated development. The multi nucleated development can aid in hub creations along the bullet train corridor and keep the viability of Mumbai business centers and help in build new robust business centers in Ahmedabad. Hub creations along the corridor can also increase proximity to employment and commercial opportunities in the in-between second and third tier cities rather then residents of these cities coming all over to Mumbai or Ahmedabad. These hubs can also bring real estate opportunities. Since accessibility index for employment opportunities is higher for cities with their destination as Ahmedabad, but due to low paying jobs, Mumbai becomes the preferred location, government should invest in job creation in the field of engineering, finance and banking for higher income.


Kim Chun-Hwan, (March 2005), Transportation Revolution: The Korean High-Speed Railway, Retrieved from; http://www.ejrcf.or.jp/jrtr/jrtr40/f08_kim.html

Siqi Zheng, Matthew E Kahn, 2013, China’s bullet train facilitate market integration and mitigate megacity growth, Retrieved from; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619335/

Jing Cao, Xioyue Cathy Liu, Yinhai Wang, Qinguan Li, (2013), Accessibility Impacts of China’s High Speed Rail Network, Retrieved from; https://ac-els-cdn-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/S096669231200261X/1-s2.0-S096669231200261X-main.pdf?_tid=8e4269be-e2fe-11e7-8f79-00000aab0f27&acdnat=1513497040_bc448983c5aeec8d4b89c387169ae31a

Robert Cervero, Hiroaki Suzuki and Kanako Luchi, (2013), Transforming Cities with Transit, Retrieved from ; http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/947211468162273111/pdf/NonAsciiFileName0.pdf

Niyati Rana, (December 2017), The Ugly Truth: Gujarat’s degree of Unemployment, Retrieved from http://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/cover-story/the-ugly-truth-gujarats-degree-of-unemployment/articleshow/61886271.cms

Google Maps

Draft MMR Plan Report, 2016-36,

Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, City Development Plan (2006-12) and (2011-2021)





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