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Ahead of Abe visit, China shows interest in high-speed railway projects in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation for India’s first bullet train project on Thursday.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2017 18:16 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
In this Aug. 21, 2017 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a Fuxing bullet train, China's latest high-speed train, arrives at a train station in northern China's Tianjin Municipality.(AP)

China on Wednesday said it was working on railway projects that focussed on increasing speed limits of Indian trains, hours ahead of the much-anticipated inauguration of India’s first bullet train project by visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Beating China, Japan had bagged the 508-kilometere long Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, a flagship venture for the Indian railways often criticised for its ageing infrastructure and lack of modernisation.

China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network of 22,000 km at the end of last year; that’s about 60% of the world’s total. China has connected most of its cities with high speed trains, drastically reducing the travel time.

“As for railway cooperation, I can tell you it is part of practical cooperation between China and India,” ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Wednesday.

“We have reached important consensus in this regard. According to my information, the relevant competent authorities between the two countries have maintained communication on promoting and increasing the speed of the railway in the current projects,” Geng added.

He was responding to a question at the regular ministry briefing on Wednesday.

“China is pleased to see the infrastructure cooperation among regional countries including on high speed railway, and we stand ready to promote cooperation with India and other regional countries to promote regional development,” Geng said.

In 2016, China’s largest high-speed train maker announced that its first $63.4 million joint venture plant in India to repair and manufacture locomotive engines started operations in Haryana.

The state-run China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation is the first foreign company to set up assembly line of rail transportation equipment in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled his ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign in 2014, the company had said in statement last August.

Modi and Abe will launch the start of work on the line on Thursday, the railway ministry said in a statement.

“This technology will revolutionise and transform the transport sector,” said Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, welcoming the prospects for growth brought by Japan’s high-speed “shinkansen” technology.

In Tokyo, a Japanese foreign ministry official said, “We would like to support ‘Make in India’ as much as possible”.

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 14:30 IST