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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe (left) during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Photo: PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe (left) during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Photo: PTI

Bullet train project signifies rapid progress, says Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project with Shinzo Abe, says more productivity with high-speed connectivity is the goal of his government

Ahmedabad: Calling it a historic day for India-Japan relationship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that more productivity with high-speed connectivity was the goal of his government.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the foundation-laying ceremony for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project, popularly called the bullet train, at Sabarmati railway station in Ahmedabad.

Modi is hosting Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is on a two-day visit to Gujarat for the Japan-India annual summit.

Modi said that Japan has been a true friend of India and this friendship can transcend time and geographical barriers.

“In today’s India, it is possible to convert any dream into a reality. Today’s event is a major step to bring an age-old dream closer to reality. The high-speed train project signifies rapid speed, rapid technology and rapid progress, which will create employment and is environment-friendly," Modi said.

The PM said that while in ancient times, towns and civilizations came up near river bodies, later they were developed near highways. “Today the time has come when new civilizations will come around high-speed rail corridors in India," he said.

The 508-km Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor (MAHSR) aims to reduce the journey time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to approximately 2.07 hours from the eight hours it takes at present. This is possible due to the operating speed of 320kmph at which this train will run. The top speed for the train is 350kmph, the highest in the world currently for a railway system on wheels. The Japanese Shinkansen technology is being used for the MAHSR.

It promises to revolutionize train travel in India, after the introduction of the first passenger locomotive between then Bombay and Thane in 1853.

“Today, the Indian Railways is on the brink of another grounding breaking milestone. September 14, 2017 marks a new watershed for India with the commencement of work of its first high-speed railway project ceremonially by the Prime Minister of India and Prime Minister of Japan," said Piyush Goyal, Union minister of railways, at the event.

Worldwide, the high-speed rail is seen as a catalyst for economic growth. The MAHSR project is going to be a major spark for development and connectivity. The fast, comfortable and convenient connectivity of the two large commercial centres of the two states would help facilitate businesses, industries and economy.

The construction of 12 well-connected stations in 12 cities would boost the development of related businesses in the vicinity of stations. The construction of this large state-of-the-art infrastructure and consequent operation and maintenance is expected to help in the growth of railway-related industries in general and consequent employment generation.

The MAHSR project was sanctioned for implementation with technical and financial assistance of the Japanese government in December 2015. The cost of this mega project is estimated at Rs1.1 trillion and it is being implemented by the National High Speed Rail Corp. Ltd. A soft loan from the Japanese government covers 81% of the total project cost. The loan has been offered at an interest rate of 0.1% with repayment over 50 years and a moratorium for the first 15 years. The soft term loan comes under the country’s Overseas Development Assistance programme.

Modi said in his speech that many countries, including the US, saw a new chapter of economic growth due to high-speed rail networks.

Speaking at the event, Abe said that Japan, which was left devastated during World War II, witnessed a new era of economic growth in 1964 when the first high-speed railway network was introduced in the country. “Today high-speed network trains are a symbol of our economic success," he said. Abe called for stronger ties between the two countries, adding that a powerful India and a powerful Japan would benefit each other.

Calling Modi a visionary leader, he said that few years down the line his next visit to Ahmedabad would hopefully be with his “dear friend" Modi in the high-speed train.

A ground-breaking ceremony was also held for a high-speed railway technology training centre in Vadodara with world-class simulators and teaching techniques, practical laboratories and hostels. Human resources would be developed for the operation, maintenance and management of the high-speed rail corridor through various training programmes. Three hundred officials would be trained in Japan, who will later help train 4,000 officials in India.

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