Fri, Sep 15, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Indian bullet train project fast-tracks Japanese ties

AFP, AHMEDABAD, India

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in blue vest, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, ride through the streets of Ahmadabad, India, on Wednesday.

Photo: AP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday inaugurated India’s first bullet train project — a US$19 billion line in the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi intended to revitalize the country’s vast, but dilapidated network.

The initiative is seen as emblematic of fast warming relations between New Delhi and Tokyo, who are seeking to combat China’s growing influence.

It is also a new beginning for a rail transport system plagued by accidents and chronic delays.

The line, using Japanese trains and technology, will link Ahmedabad to Mumbai and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023.

The 500km journey will be cut from eight hours now to just over two hours.

“I hope to enjoy the beauty of India through the windows of the bullet train with Modi on my side when I come to India in a few years,” Abe told a ceremony in Ahmedabad. “It marks the beginning of a new chapter in ties between India and Japan.”

“The Indo-Japan relationship is not just about bilateral trade. It has developed into a strategic and global partnership in the Indian-Pacific region,” Abe said.

The bullet train is one of Modi’s pet projects.

“Today India has taken a giant step in fulfilling a long cherished dream,” Modi said to loud cheers from the audience. “The bullet train project will bring great speed, great development and great technology to the country.”

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