New Delhi: It is a widely known fact that China and Japan have been vying with each other for developing bullet trains in India and the region. However, preferring Japan over China for laying the foundation for India's first bullet train project, Prime Minister Narendra Modi managed to crush China and gave the neighbour a strong message as well.
Recently, the military of both India and China were locked in an over two-month stand-off at Doklam in the Sikkim section of the India-China boundary, at the tri-junction of India-China-Bhutan. It began when the Indian Army on June 16 halted a road construction by China's People's Liberation Army at Doka La in the area. China in retaliation stopped the entry of Indian pilgrims via the Nathu La pass. The Doklam region is also very close to India's arterial corridor which connects its northeast with the rest of the country.
The Doklam standoff affected relations with China to some extent. However, China recently said it is ready for talks to reopen the Nath La pass for Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar, which it had closed in mid-June over the military standoff at Doklam.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will look at ways to enhance "multifaceted" relations between the two countries and carry forward their special strategic and global partnership when they meet for the annual Summit on Wednesday.
On September 14, Abe will attend the ground breaking ceremony of the Mumbai-Ahemdabad high-speed railway, a flagship programme of the India-Japan collaboration, marking the commencement of the project, also known as bullet train project.
Through a video link, the two prime ministers will attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the 'High-Speed Railway Training Institute' being set up in Vadodara.
On the same day, the two sides will hold delegation level talks.
The Railway Minister Piyush Goya said that the high-speed rail was envisioned by Modi to take Indian Railways towards "most modern technologies like developed countries".
The 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project will entail an estimated cost of Rs 1,10,000 crore. "Out of this Rs 1,10,000 crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore and the interest on this loan is minimal, i.e. 0.1 per cent," Goyal said. "This loan is to be repaid to Japan in 50 years. Loan repayment period of 50 years with 15 years grace." Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent in tunnel and the rest two per cent will be on the ground. That is, 508 km stretch will have 468 km of elevated track, 27 km inside tunnel and the remaining 13 km on the ground. The high speed train will also pass through the country's biggest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea.
Sushant Mishra, Infra Advisor to the Indian Railways, told IANS that Japan was awarded the contract because there had been no accident on its bullet train networks. "They (Japan) are pioneers of bullet train technology, and their train has the highest punctuality rate," Mishra said. Japan was also ready to transfer the technology to India and sponsoring the project. He also said that the works for the terminal in Sabarmati would start from September 14 itself. "About 825 hectares of land would be acquired for the high speed rail," he said. On the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route, total 12 stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. The distance of 508 km will be covered in two hours and seven minutes by the bullet train if it stops at four stations namely Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. According to railway ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train will be 320 kilometers per hour and maximum speed will be 350 kilometers per hour. If the bullet train will stop at all 12 stations, then it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes. In a day, the high-speed train will make 70 Ahmedabad-Mumbai sorties.