At least two Japanese players, Hitachi and Kawasaki, have formed a consortium and have begun discussions on suitable modifications in the design of bullet trains, keeping in view suitability for Indian environmental and other conditions, Indian Railways officials told the businessline. 

Sources said that the two Japanese firms expressed willingness to participate in the supply of the ‘Shinkansen’ train sets. However, officials sought some modifications of the designs, keeping in mind factors like cost and suitability for Indian conditions. Also, local weather conditions are to be considered in the design of such train sets. 

“So these firms, a likely consortium, have submitted proposals with the new designs. The two companies had approached the executing authority of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (bullet train) project. Discussions took place. This is all part of the day-to-day work around the project,” the official said. 

Each Shinkansen train set will have ten coaches and can accommodate 690 passengers. The train sets will be modified to meet Indian conditions, such as harsh hot weather and omnipresent dust.

“The Japanese air conditioning system in bullet trains is different, suitable for a maximum temperature of up to 40 degree Celsius only. Necessary modifications to effectively function at up to 50 degree Celsius are required (in India). A bullet train operating here would require changes in operations and some technical modifications to suit Indian demand,” the official added. 

Another factor is that India wants to use ‘bio-toilets’ instead of high-end technical offerings on Japan’s train sets. Similarly, documentation of instructions on using facilities has to be primarily in English and Hindi. 

“Then, we need to bring down the costs a bit,” the official said. 

According to the JICA’a loan conditions, only Japanese manufacturers such as Kawasaki and Hitachi can participate in the bid.

India is eyeing “slightly lower costs” given modified designs, too. “So yes, some modifications are being looked at. And bids will come in shortly,” the office said. 

The NHSRCL (National High-Speed Rail Corporation Ltd) would procure 18 bullet trains based on Japan’s E5 Shinkansen technology for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor.

The bullet train will operate at a maximum speed of 320 km per hour. 

Recently, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw shared an update on the bullet train project on X (Formerly Twitter) by posting a video showing the excavation and tunnelling work, as well as the use of geotechnical instruments to overcome these challenges. 

“Instrumentation technologies for enhanced safety and better monitoring in the bullet train project,” Vaishnaw captioned the video.

As per the December progress report, nearly 40 per cent of the project is completed, while in terms of financial progress, it is 45 per cent.  

The first phase of commissioning - for a 50 km stretch in Gujarat - is expected in July 2026.