Test drilling for India’s first undersea high-speed rail tunnel has commenced, The Economic Times reported.
The test drilling will help ascertain the soil conditions for the bullet train route. "Soil and rocks below the 70-meter-deep sea are being tested as part of the geo-technical and geo-physical investigation undertaken for the entire project," a senior Railway Ministry official reportedly said.
The 7km tunnel to run under the Arabian Sea is part of the 508km high-speed rail corridor that will connect Mumbai to Ahmedabad.
The bullet trains will run at a maximum speed of 350km per hour and will reduce the current seven-hour journey between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to just two hours.
The corridor is proposed to be on the elevated track with a stretch near Thane that will go under sea.
Japan has offered to fund 80% of the $14.5bn project through a 50-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1% and a moratorium of payments up to 15 years, according to The Economic Times.
Japan operates the Shinkansen bullet train that can run at speeds of 320km per hour. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled on the bullet train last year, when visited the country — and was convinced of the new project.
Work on the new rail corridor is expected to commence in 2018 and be completed by 2023.
* Data provided by Timetric's Construction Intelligence Center.