PM Narendra Modi, Japan's Shinzo Abe today launched bullet train project in India
Ahmedabad: After jointly inaugurating work on India's first bullet train, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe held summit talks today and signed 15 agreements to enhance strategic partnership, agreeing to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region where China is increasingly assertive. A joint statement said India and Japan also agreed to strengthen cooperation against terror groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS and Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, calling upon Islamabad to act against those behind 2008 Mumbai terror attack and Pathankot.
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Stressing on "zero tolerance" against terrorism, PM Modi, Mr Abe called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting their networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists, in an apparent refrence to Pakistan.
"A strong India is good for Japan and a strong Japan is good for India," said Mr Abe after the two leaders laid the foundation stone for the project at the Sabarmati station. He spoke in Japanese but began with "Namaskar" and ended his speech with a "Dhanyawad." Japan PM Shinzo Abe, who landed to a grand reception on Wednesday afternoon, said Indo-Japan partnership is special, strategic and global.
The prime ministers of the two countries also laid the foundation stone for an institute in Vadodara where around 4,000 people will be trained for the bullet train project.
The Rs. 1.1 lakh crore bullet train project is a joint venture between the Indian Railways and Japanese firm Shinkansen Technology. The Japanese team estimated that the first train would roll out by 2023, but Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said PM Modi wants the train to start on 15 August 2022 - when India completes 75 years of Independence.
Japan will fund 81 per cent of the project, nearly Rs. 88,000 crores, in soft loans at an interest rate of 0.1%. The loan will have to be repaid over 50 years.
The new train will race between PM Modi's home state Gujarat and Mumbai, carrying 750 passengers. Travel time will be reduced from eight hours to a little over three hours if it stops at all the 12 stations and around two hours if it stops at only four. At an average speed of 250 km per hour, with a top speed of around 320 km per hour, the train will run at more than double the top speed of the fastest train in India.
Of the 508-km stretch, 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent through a tunnel and the rest on the ground. The high speed train will pass through the country's longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under sea near Thane in Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra government is still undecided on where the bullet train will end in Mumbai. The state government this week agreed to spare 9,000 sq metres plot for the station at the Bandra-Kurla Complex on the condition that the railways assess suitability of an alternative site.