Japan helps to ready India's first bullet train, edging out China

Japan and India are joining forces to compete with China as that nation targets infrastructure investments across Asia. The 311-mile-long high-speed rail will link the financial hub of Mumbai and the industrial city of Ahmedabad in western Gujarat.

Amit Dave/Reuters
A man cleans a poster showing Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi prior to Mr. Abe's visit to India. Japan is investing in the creation of a high-speed bullet train in Japan.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone for India's first bullet train in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state this week, in a tightening of ties just days after New Delhi ended a dangerous military confrontation with China.

The move by Mr. Abe, who starts a two-day visit to India on Wednesday, highlights an early lead for Japan in a sector where the Chinese have also been trying to secure a foothold, but without much success.

Mr. Modi has made the 311-mile-long high-speed rail link between the financial hub of Mumbai and the industrial city of Ahmedabad in western Gujarat a centerpiece of his efforts to showcase India's ability to build cutting-edge infrastructure.

The leaders will launch the start of work on the line on Thursday, India's railways ministry said in a statement.

"This technology will revolutionize and transform the transport sector," said Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, welcoming the prospects for growth brought by Japan's high-speed shinkansen (bullet train) technology.

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."

India would make "all-out efforts" to complete the line by August 2022, more than a year earlier than planned, the government said this week.

Japan is providing 81 percent of the funding for the 1.08-trillion-rupee ($16.9-billion) project, through a 50-year loan at 0.1 percent annual interest.

Ties between India and Japan have blossomed as Modi and Abe increasingly see eye-to-eye in countering growing Chinese assertiveness across Asia.

Japanese investment into India has surged in areas ranging from automotives to infrastructure in the remote northeast, making Tokyo its third-largest foreign direct investor.

India and Japan are also trying to move forward on a plan for New Delhi to buy a Japanese amphibious aircraft – ShinMaywa Industries' US-2 – in what would be one of Tokyo's first arms transfers since ending a self-imposed embargo.

Tokyo hopes that by gaining a head start on rival exporters of rail technology such as China and Germany, its companies will be able to dominate business in one of the most promising markets for high-speed rail equipment.

In 2015, China won a contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed link between Delhi and Mumbai, part of a network of more than 6,214 miles of track India wants to set up, but little progress has been made.

Bullet train critics say the funds would be far better spent to modernize India's slow and rickety state-controlled 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.

This story was reported by Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Japan helps to ready India's first bullet train, edging out China
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2017/0912/Japan-helps-to-ready-India-s-first-bullet-train-edging-out-China
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe