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Bullet train passengers may be charged for extra luggage: Report
Bullet train

The National High Speed Rail Corporation [NHSRCL] executing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project plans to charge travellers for the bags they check in. “Basically, the idea is to discourage passengers from carrying heavy luggage,” the NHSRCL said. Every coach is said to contain sufficient space for hand baggage and the last coach will have space for the extra check-in luggage.

Passengers traveling on India’s first superfast bullet train may have to pay for the luggage they check in. To discourage travelers from carrying heavy luggage, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation [NHSRCL], which is executing the project linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad, plans to charge them for the bags they check in.

Every coach in the train will contain sufficient space for hand baggage. In the last coach, however, some seats will likely be removed to make space for the extra check-in luggage, for which passengers may have to pay extra — a first for a train in India.

The introduction of the country’s first bullet train, known as the Shinkansen in Japan and expected to be operational in 2022, will mark India’s shift to an era of high-speed trains capable of hitting speeds of up to 350 kilometers per hour.

extra luggage

According to NHSRCL, the Japanese are used to traveling light and on their bullet trains, no extra space is kept apart for check-in luggage. The trains meant for India will be redesigned to accommodate luggage.

“Basically the idea is to discourage {passengers from carrying} heavy luggage There has to be some kind of control. The idea is not to earn money from people. If we allow it free, there will be no control. There will also be specified dimension for both hand and check-in baggage,” said Achal Khare, managing director of NHSRCL.

The Narendra Modi government has set an ambitious deadline of completing the project by August 15, 2022, when India marks 75 years of Independence.NHSRCL, however, expects to open a section of the network by then and complete it by December 2023.

“To start with, we will have 24 train sets of which 18 will come from Japan while six will be manufactured here. But when we say it will be manufactured in India, it means not 100% as critical parts will still come from Japan,” Khare said.

Like the Shatabdi trains, bullet train coaches will have overhead bins for storing hand baggage.

This is different from Japan as they don’t have the culture of taking heavy luggage. We are planning to create a separate space for heavy luggage. The hand baggage will be allowed with the passengers, but those planning to carry heavy luggage will have to book it in advance. The concept will be like cabin baggage and check-in baggage,” Khare added.

The passengers who book space for check-in luggage will be given seats in the same coach where space for the luggage will be created. The corporation will have to remove a few seats, which will reduce the capacity of the trains, to accommodate the luggage.

The corporation is yet to decide on the charges it will levy for check-in luggage and the weight limitation.

“At the time of the detailed project report, the fare was proposed as 1.5 times of the first AC fare of the Indian Railway train. For the charges related to luggage, we are yet to take a call,” Khare said.

About 35 % of the land required for the project has been acquired. Of the 508.17km-long corridor, 155.76km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

According to Khare, pre-construction activities, which include identification of utilities and critical structures, have been completed. The corporation has divided work on the network into 26 packages and expects to award contracts, including for the procurement of bullet trains, by the end of 2019.

The foundation stone for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in 2017.

“Since it will be a short journey, it is unlikely that people will travel with heavy luggage. But it is good to have the restriction,” said Shri Prakash, a former member of the Railway Board.