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India may get bullet trains, but not the tracks
Bullet trains to run at snail's pace on India's notoriously accident-prone railway network
India wants to buy bullet trains, but it doesn't have the tracks to carry them.
The solution? Slow the trains down.
According to the Hindustan Times, if India acquires bullet trains, they will be modified to run at 110 kph -- a fraction of their potential speed -- to make them compatible with the country's existing broad gauge tracks.
Bullet trains are designed to run on standard gauge tracks at up to 325 kph. India's fastest train right now is the Bhopal Shatabdi, running between New Delhi and Bhopal City, which can reach a maximum speed of 150 kph.
Reader "APJ" comments on the Hindustan Times article "Bullet trains for tortoise tracks": "...its like buying a Bentley and than pushing it to drive around as you don't have money for petrol.... [sic]"
The Indian government is discussing with Japanese, French and German manufacturers to buy six new trains, according to local media.
The cost of the trains is estimated to be Rs 250 billion (US$4.7 billion), but the requisite modifications will likely push the cost up.
The railway network is India's most important transport system, carrying millions of passengers daily, often beyond the train's maximum capacity.
But the network has a notorious accident-prone record.
A recent official report revealed that almost 15,000 people are killed each year from crossing rail tracks, a figure the government described as a "massacre."
Some people have been able to make a living from removing the remains of people who die on the tracks.
Also on CNN: Drive a train for real at Japan's Railway Museum