Image Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday laid the foundation stone for India’s first ever bullet train project, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Modi labelled the ambitious Rs 1.10 lakh crore project, that will cut travel time amid the two cities from seven hours to less than three, as a “big gift from Japan to India”.

Addressing the crowd gathered at the Athletics Stadium in Sabarmati for the event, Abe said the Indo-Japan corporation was special, strategic and global.

Abe said, “A strong India is in Japan’s interest and a strong Japan is in India’s interest,” after the two leaders pressed a button unveiling a plaque.

”My good friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a far-sighted leader. He took a decision two years ago to bring high-speed train in India and to create a new India,” he said.

The Japanese counterpart added that he hoped to enjoy the “beautiful scenery of India through the windows of the bullet train” when he returns few years later.

Congratulating the people of India, Modi announced this was “a bold step towards realising an old dream of a bullet train.” Praising Japan, Modi said the country was such a friend that it gave a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent interest for the project.

Modi also took a dig at the hostility, which had often sounded cynical about the bullet train project. “When earlier I talked about bullet train, they (opposition parties) used to say it was big talk, and now when it has come they are saying what is the need for it,” Modi said.

“Our stress is now on high-speed connectivity which will improve speed, lessen distance and ensure economic progress,” he added. Modi said, in 1964 Japan started the bullet train and now this technology was in 15 countries. “From Europe to China, the bullet train’s image can be seen everywhere. Not just economical but also societal changes have been brought about by these trains,” said Modi.

The train project between the two cities is expected to be ready by 2022. The train will cover the distance of over 500km in less than three hours. The prime ministers of both the countries also laid the foundation stone for an institute that will come up at Vadodara where 4,000 people will be trained for the bullet train project. Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by Modi. The project is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan’s Shinkansen Technology.

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