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Asia Minute: India Chooses Japan for High Speed Rail Project

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

India is about to officially launch its first high-speed rail project. And after the latest round of international competition, it looks like the contract will go to Japan. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be spending the weekend in India.  He meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow and that may be when details are released about a multi-billion dollar deal for India’s first bullet train.  The route will go from the financial capital of Mumbai to the commercial capital of Gujarat state…which also happens to be Prime Minister Modi’s home base.

When the project is finished, it will transform an 8-hour trip into two hours.  It’s worth about 15-billion dollars and according to several media reports, Japan will finance 80% of it at an interest rate of less than 1%.

Reuters says India’s cabinet has signed off on the agreement, which represents one of the largest foreign investments so far in India’s infrastructure—a key initiative for the Modi government.  It’s a big deal for Japan as well—which is waging a country-by-country competition with China to build high-speed rail networks around Asia.  China won the last round—a bid to build Indonesia’s first high-speed rail, as well as an earlier route in Thailand.  Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reports construction on the Indian project is scheduled to start in 2017 and wrap up six years later.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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