Japan's bullet train network, which seems to have won the battle for passengers against the airlines operating on short routes, will benefit countries like India building high-speed corridors, according to a top Japanese official.
The high speed railways have completely taken over from airlines in the 366-km route between Tokyo and Nagoya, where the Tokaido Shinkansen has 85 per cent of the market share, according to statistics of the International High Speed Rail Association (IHRA).
The Shinkansen, colloquially known in English as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan.
In contrast, in longer routes like the 1175-km Tokyo-Fukoaka Shinkansen, the market share for the high speed railways is around 10 per cent as against the airlines' 90 per cent.
"No matter in which country, high-speed railways have found a sweet spot in the 300 km-900 km route. Of course the punctuality of the trains and the comfort of the train also matters," said Masafumi Shukuri, Chairman IHRA.
"Countries like India which are building such high speed networks would find this model extremely beneficial. However, along with high speed, countries also need to develop wayside communities, urban planning. High speed rail networks can only be successful if there is high reliability," said Shukuri.
The success of these lines would come as good news for the Indian Railways which has begun land acquisition for its 508-km high speed network between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, a 50 km stretch of which is scheduled to be opened by 2022.
The number of air passengers has been growing in the country in double digits in the last five years. During financial 2016, the number of air passengers grew by 15 per cent, whereas the number of passengers in the four rail upper classes actually declined.
"We have recognised the fact that the high speed corridors would be specially beneficial in shorter routes like Delhi-Chandigarh. While we are currently studying the golden quadrilateral for a high speed corridor, shorter routes are definitely on the anvil," Rajesh Agarwal, Member, Rolling Stock told PTI.
In other countries too shorter routes have given airline companies a run for their money.
Within a year of the launch of the high speed railway rote of 618 km in 2008 between Madrid and Barcelona, Spain's most popular high-speed train route, air travel was down 27 per cent compared with the previous year, according to the International Union of Railways (UIC).
Similarly, the journey of around 477.95 km between Milan and Rome served by the 320km/h Frecciarossa, Italy's fastest trains, has become the favourite among tourists as it takes an hour less than flying there.
Shukuri also points out that high speed railways has also gained in certain sectors over airlines because travelling by air is time consuming and entails many hours of actual travel than merely the flight time.
"Flying means travelling from home to so airport, time taken for check-in and security, as well as additional time in transport and baggage pickup. So over all, despite flying time being less, on shorter routes passenger prefer the hassle-free high speed train travel," he said.
While it takes around 1hour 33 minutes to travel in Shinkansen between Tokyo and Nagoya, by air it takes around 1 hr 10 minutes. The Tokyo to Osaka route by high speed train takes around 2 hours 22 minutes, just an hour more than a flight at between the two cities.
The Tokyo-Hiroshima route takes around 3 hours 4 minutes. By flight it takes 1 hour 30 minutes.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)