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Indian gov't set to choose Japanese bullet train system

The Japanese and Indian governments are set to agree on the selection of a Japanese bullet train system for a high-speed rail project in Western India, it has emerged.

    The project is expected to be announced in a joint declaration at a summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in India on Dec. 12.

    Both governments agreed in May 2013 to start conducting a detailed investigation into high-speed rail in India. The same year officials started examining the possibility of operating services between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in Western India. Following comparisons of the cost and safety of services offered by high-speed railways in different countries, a final report was compiled in July this year recommending Japan's Shinkansen bullet train system.

    According to the report, bullet trains traveling the 505 kilometers between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will reach a maximum speed of 320 kilometers per hour, making the trip in 2 hours, 7 minutes at the fastest. The total cost of the project would be about 980 billion rupees (roughly 1.81 trillion yen). Construction is set to commence in 2017, and officials aim to begin operation of the trains in 2023. The Japanese government is preparing to provide yen loans covering up to 80 percent of the cost of the project, excluding the cost of land acquisition.

    Once the Indian government has formally decided to adopt the Shinkansen system, bidding will take place to secure contractors. Japanese companies are aiming to get across-the-board orders for carriages, signals and communication systems, and companies including East Japan Railway Co., whose subsidiaries participated in the survey, will aim to secure orders.

    In India, high-speed rail proposals have been made for six other routes.

    The Abe government has upheld exports of infrastructure, including railways, as part of his growth strategy for Japan. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and JR group companies plan to export bullet trains and other types of infrastructure. Competition with other countries, however, is intense. In September this year, the Indonesian government decided to opt for a Chinese high-speed rail system, edging out Japan. Japan aims to win back ground, though, and in addition to India, Central Japan Railway Co. is in consultations with companies in Texas in the United States, which is also planning to adopt the Shinkansen system.

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