India can afford bullet trains, says Japan

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New Delhi, Oct 16 (UNI) India need not delay the introduction of high-speed passenger trains, citing high costs and logistics problems as reasons, according to the Japanese manufacturers of bullet trains.

Japan had similar problems when it launched its bullet trains (Sinkansen) 43 years ago, but the project turned out to be a roaring success, Mr Kurasawa Yasuki, Director (Administration), JORSA (Japan Overseas Rolling Stock Association), told UNI.

His reassurance comes in the wake of reports that the Railway Ministry is dithering over going ahead with the ambitious project.

''Japan was not exactly a rich country when it embarked on its bullet train project, and, in fact, had to raise huge loans from the World Bank. But it paid off the loans in seven years, much ahead of the timeframe.

''This was possible because the trains became very popular among the users who took to them in a big way,'' Mr Yasuki said.

Indian Railway system, which is also assured of high volume of passengers, could emulate the example of Japanese bullet trains without bothering much about the initial high costs of such a system, he pointed out.

''India can afford to put such trains on track, which will reduce the travel time drastically and provide quality rail transportation to its people,'' he said.

Japan, the pioneer of high-speed train systems in the world, had launched its first bullet trains before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, covering a network of around 500 km. Now the network has expanded to 2000 km, and it is a huge financial success.

''Initially, India can also run a few bullet trains connecting one city to another. Gradually, it should try to expand the network to make it financially viable,'' Mr Yasuki said.

Instead of being daunted by the initial high costs of the project, India should weigh favourably the ''churning in the social and economic spheres such a project will create,'' he said.

JORSA, an umbrella body representing leading Japanese firms such as Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, Nippon Shrayo, Sumitomo and Toshiba, is participating in a two-day Exporail India-2007, which begen here today.

More than 75 exhibitors from 14 countries, including France's Alstom Transport that produces world's fastest train, TGV, are participating in the exhibition that is showcasing the very latest in railway technology and systems.

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