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Train speed key to India’s economic growth: Chinese engineer

world Updated: Jun 07, 2015 19:38 IST
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A bullet train-type high-speed railway network and refurbishing existing tracks to crank up their speed limits would help India, the world’s fastest-growing large economy, substantially improve its growth rate, a top Chinese rail engineer has suggested.

India has the world’s fourth largest rail network, outstripped only by China, which now has more than six times as many tracks.

“We carried out six rounds of line upgrades in the 1990s. We faced the same question: whether to continue upgrading the system or build the high-speed railway,” said Zhou Guotang, deputy chief engineer of China Railway Corporation.

China chose to hit the gas paddle hard because the nation entered the bullet train race late, forcing it to adopt new and better technology.

The results showed in a decade as engineers and experts, such as Zhou, soon realised that bullet trains were rapidly impacting economic

India and China face similar conditions: huge territorial mass and a large population. China’s railway experiment, therefore, could also work for India, too, Zhou said.

The top engineer said Chinese expertise in high-speed trains could help India achieve some of its targets.

Railway cooperation was one of the focus areas when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China in May. China will help India raise speeds in the Chennai-Mysore sector via Bangalore, modernise stations such as Bhubaneswar and look at the feasibility of a bullet train connecting New Delhi and Chennai.

“In one word, the front tier of China’s high-speed railway has a rich management experience and they will surely play a decisive role in the construction of India’s speed rail,” Zhou said during an interaction with Indian academics and journalists.

A bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai has been in the works under Prime Minister Modi’s watch, who wants the world’s fifth largest rail network to aid his economic push.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has promised in his April budget to invest 8.5 trillion rupees over the next five years in the overloaded British-era monolith and modernise existing tracks, where the average speed of the country’s best trains is a sluggish 70kmph.