Accord on bullet train expected during Japan PM’s visit

New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will arrive in Delhi on December 11 on a three-day official visit amid expectations that an agreement would be firmed up on India’s first bullet train to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Abe will hold annual summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the December 11-13 visit. He is also likely to visit Varanasi which is Modi’s parliamentary constituency.

At the last summit meeting held in Tokyo in 2014, the two prime ministers agreed to elevate the bilateral relationship to “special strategic and global partnership”.

Modi and Abe also met last month on the sidelines of the 13th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-India Summit at Kuala Lumpur and again during the Paris climate change conference.

Abe, who met Modi over lunch at Kuala Lumpur, had said that India-Japan relationship has the greatest potential of any bilateral relationship in the world.

The proposed bullet train line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would cost Rs.98,000 crore, according to a joint project feasibility study which was co-financed by the Indian Railways and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said earlier this month that the Japanese government has given an assistance package proposal for Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor involving technical, operation and maintenance (O&M), and financial assistance to the tune of 81 percent of the project cost being met through loan.

He said that no other country has offered such support for the project which involves 505-km long high-speed line.

The project is expected to cut down travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad from about seven hours to two hours.

The proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed railway had figured in Modi’s discussions with Abe during his visit to Japan last year.

Abe had expressed hope that India could introduce Japan’s Shinkansen system for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route and had expressed his readiness to provide financial, technical and operational support for the system.

Modi and Abe share a warm personal equation. Modi is among 11 people Abe follows on twitter.

Modi’s visit to Japan also saw the signing of the document to promote partnership city arrangement between the ancient cities of Varanasi and Kyoto.

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