Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe being welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival at Ahmedabad airport in Gujarat on Wednesday
Ahmedabad: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who arrived here on Wednesday on a two-day visit to India during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will lay the foundation stone for India's first bullet train in PM's home state Gujarat on Thursday, in a strengthening of ties just days after New Delhi ended a dangerous military confrontation with China.
Modi has made the 508-km stretch high-speed rail link between the financial hub of Mumbai and the industrial city of Ahmedabad a centrepiece of his efforts to showcase India's ability to build cutting-edge infrastructure.
In Tokyo, a Japanese foreign ministry official told reporters, "We would like to support 'Make in India' as much as possible," referring to Modi's signature policy to lure investors in manufacturing. "And for that, we want to do what's beyond the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line and achieve economies of scale," he said.
India would make "all-out efforts" to complete the line by August 15, 2022, more than a year earlier than planned, the government said this week.
Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent in tunnel and the rest 2 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.
Japan is providing 81 percent of the funding for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore project, through a 50-year loan at 0.1 percent annual interest.
Bullet train critics say the funds would be far better spent to modernise India's slow and rickety Indian rail system, the world's fourth largest.
But a $15-billion safety overhaul has hit delays as a state steel firm proved unable to fill demand for new rail.Funded by the Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA), the 508-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project will be the biggest change Indian Railways has witnessed in post-Independence India.