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Japanese expertise for bullet train

Railway minister Sadananda Gowda (left) and minister of state Manoj Sinha in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha

New Delhi, July 8: Rail minister Sadananda Gowda today announced the construction of a high-speed rail network linking Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta (diamond quadrilateral), with the stretch from Mumbai to Ahmedabad getting the first train, in collaboration with Japan.

“It is the wish and dream of every Indian citizen that a bullet (high-speed) train runs in India as early as possible. The Indian Railways is on course to fulfil its long cherished dream. I propose a bullet train on the Ahmedabad- Mumbai sector,” Gowda said, while presenting the Narendra Modi-government’s first railway budget in the Lok Sabha today.

A high-speed train runs at more than 250km per hour. At present, many countries run trains at an average of 300kmph, while experimental trains have operated at speeds of over 500kmph per hour.

Officials said Modi’s trip to Japan was partly delayed because the Centre wanted to clear a proposal to allow majority foreign direct investment in rail infrastructure, including high-speed trains, before visiting that country.

This cabinet clearance could pave the way for an India-Japanese joint venture bullet trains using the Japanese Shinkansen technology, which is being given preference over the French and Chinese offers.

However, the allocation for the high-speed corridor is a mere Rs 100 crore for this year. According to officials, the Modi government aims to complete the first phase of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad link by 2017 and the second by 2019, with a large part of the funds coming from Japanese partners.

India has long wanted to set up a high-speed rail network, but has been daunted by the high costs. Plans to set up around six such corridors during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure as the railway minister were quietly buried.

 
 
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