6:11 pm - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Indian Railways team in China for Delhi-Chennai bullet train

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BEIJING: An Indian Railways team is in China to chalk out plans for conducting feasibility study to build the 1,754 km-long Delhi-Chennai high-speed train corridor, world’s second largest bullet train line.

The high-level team of officials from Rail Vikas Nigam Limited led by Satish Agnihotri arrived here yesterday and is in talks with China’s High Speed Rail Corp to build the Delhi- Chennai corridor for which the communist giant has agreed to conduct the study free of cost during President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September, officials here told PTI.

The proposed corridor could be the second largest in the world after China’s 2,298 km-long Beijing-Guangzhou line which was launched last year. Running at a speed of 300 km per hour, it covers the distance in about eight hours.

The Delhi-Chennai high speed line could cost around USD 32.6 billion, state-run China Daily quoted Chinese officials as saying.

India is currently considering two corridors for high speed trains. While Japan is conducting feasibility study for the Bullet train project in Mumbai-Ahemdabad corridor, China will do the same for the Delhi-Chennai route which expected to begin by early next year.

Under the agreement, China has agreed to provide training in heavy haul for 100 Indian Railways officials, redevelopment of existing railway stations and establishment and establishment of railway university in India. The training was expected to begin soon.

The two nations have also agreed to cooperate to identify the technical inputs required to increase speed on the existing railway line from Chennai to Mysore via Bangalore.

The Delhi-Chennai route is part of the proposed Diamond Quadrilateral project, which aims to build a high-speed train network between different cities, including Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Chennai-Kolkata, Kolkata-Delhi and Mumbai-Kolkata.

Currently, Rajdhani Express train covers the distance between the two cities in 28 hours and as per the plan, the proposed bullet train at 300 km per hour speed will reduce the travelling time to six hours.

If materialised, the Indian bullet train project could be a major gain for China which is making an aggressive pitch to market its high speed train technology outside the country.

On November 20, China signed its largest overseas project worth about USD 11.97 billion with Nigeria to build a railway line along the African country’s coast. The contract is its single largest overseas project, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) said.

Earlier this month, CRCC lost a USD 3.7 billion contract to build a high-speed rail link in Mexico after the country’s legislature raised concerns about the nature of the bidding process.

Commenting on the India-China High Speed train deal, Feng Hao, a researcher at the Institute of Comprehensive Transportation, said if the deal is made, the project opens the door for Chinese companies to provide new railway design, tracks made of durable materials, automated signalling for faster trains and modern stations in India.

India has added 11,000 km railways track in 67 years since its independence while China, whose operating rail mileage exceeded 100,000 km by the end of 2013, including 10,000 km of high-speed railroads, is pushing for a bigger share of the lucrative high-speed train market in India and other parts of the world, the China Daily report said.

Besides cooperation in Railway development, China has agreed to invest about USD 20 billion in two industrial parks in India during Xi’s visit.

India is pushing China to step up investments in the country to address the huge trade deficit which officials say averaged to USD 35 billion a year in the last few years in favour of China.

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