PMO forms committee to expedite bullet train project

PMO forms committee to expedite bullet train projectPrime Minister Narendra ModiReuters

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has set up a committee to expedite the construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, meant for bullet trains connecting the two cities.

The committee will be headed by Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, and the Railway Board chairman, secretary of department of expenditure, foreign secretary and secretary of industrial policy will be the members of the panel.

The panel will hold discussions with its Japanese counterpart to take the next step in implementation of the project, Business Standard reported.

The Railway Board head will oversee all the operation and technical issues related to the bullet train project, while the economic affairs secretary will be responsible for the financial aspects of it.

Last month, the cabinet approved the 508-km high-speed line to run bullet trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad that is expected to reduce the travel time on the route from the current eight to two hours.

“This enterprise will launch a revolution in Indian railways and speed up India’s journey into the future. It will become an engine of economic transformation in India,” BBC quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying.

The cabinet had cleared the project “based” on the recommendations made by a committee headed by Panagariya. It also gave its nod to a suggestion on permitting private operators on the high-speed line.

However, the committee made a recommendation to allow Indian Railways to operate the corridor for the first five years after the launch before private operations step in.

The Panagariya panel had advised choosing Japan for the implementation of the project instead of China as the Japan International Cooperation Agency proposed to fund 80% of the project’s cost at a low interest rate of 0.1%. Japan had also assured “technology transfer and local manufacturing for a specified period”.

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