Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022
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Riding A Dum Dum Dream

A bullet train project is a showpiece of progress. But with a railways gasping for funds, it’s wasteful expenditure too.

Riding A Dum Dum Dream
Riding A Dum Dum Dream Alamy

Gajesh Kumar, a 32-year-old gem and jewellery trader in Baroda, is a potential customer of India’s first bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad that is slated to start service seven years from now. Kumar travels to Ahmedabad, Surat and Mumbai thrice a week on business, for which he either takes a train or drives down. Much the same as thousands of angadias—Gujarat’s diamond and jewellery couriers—who discreetly and efficiently transport high-value goods and cash, often using India’s railway network. Why, a report in Mint lists the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Gujarat Mail as ‘angadia mail’—most seats between carriages S-4 and S-7 are occupied by these couriers.

The community, which travels the Mumbai-Ahm­e­dabad corridor frequently, is excited about the bullet train. For them, a faster mode of travel could save precious time. But there is a bigger question on their minds. At what cost will this convenience come? Kumar is clear. The bullet train will save him crucial hours. But he has his doubts. “We are unsure at this moment. A bullet train would be useful only if it is affordable. We work on low margins and we travel by train to save costs. If bullet trains are expensive, it will not be an option,” he says matter-of-factly.

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