Business Today

While talking about bullet trains, have we forgotten about the pod taxis that were promised?

The SkyBus and the water-taxi projects also fell through even before they commenced.

BT Online | September 15, 2017 | Updated 11:52 IST
While talking about bullet trains, have we forgotten about the pod taxis that were promised?
Representative image

Yesterday, on the 15th of September, PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe launched the bullet train project in Ahmedabad. The proposed bullet train that will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will slash the travel time to half. Passengers will be able to complete the 508-km journey in two hours instead of the current travel time of seven hours. This seems like the dawn of a new era for Indian transportation, but things are not as simple.
A project similar in nature was undertaken by the government a year ago, when it commenced work on the ambitious project. The pod taxi, proposed to run between Varanasi, Nagpur and Gurugram has been a pet project of Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari. The first phase was proposed between Gurugram and Delhi's Dhaula Kuan. However, things are not running as smoothly as one would hope.
The pod taxi project, significantly smaller in every form from the bullet train project has faced quite a few hurdles along the way. The pod taxi, built with the collaborative efforts of NASA's SkyTran and UK's Ultra Global PRT, will soon be tested. Each firm will showcase a run of 1 km, livemint reports. 

It must be mentioned here that in 2016, NHAI drew four companies to build the pod taxis, out of which, one withdrew very soon, and New Zealand's Metrino Personal Rapid Transit, withdrew in 2017. Moreover, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram had terminated the first EOI, or expression of interest, because the project fell short of the safety parameters etched out in the EOI and also due to poor response.
Not only that, the SkyBus project was cancelled after the Konkan Railway found it unviable. Then there was the water-taxi project envisioned between Mumbai and Mandwa but it still hasn't seen the light of the day, as mentioned in Business Standard . On the other hand, work on Delhi Metro first started in 1998 and by 2002, it saw the first journey.

Although the deadline for the bullet train project as of now is 2023, PM Modi announced that the government will try to launch it in 2022, the year India celebrates 75 years of independence.
One hopes that it would not be stalled like the pod taxi project and become a success.


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