Indian and French Railways to sign MoU

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New Delhi, Jan 24 (UNI) The Cabinet today approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India's Railway Ministry and SNCF, French National Railways, for promoting bilateral cooperation in the rail sector covering a wide gamut of issues, including high speed rail projects, safety and maintenance of tracks. The MoU, to be valid for three years, will be signed during French President Nicolas Sarkozy's official visit to India, beginning tomorrow.

''The MoU will help promote cooperation in the rail sector between French National Railways and Indian Railways,'' Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters, briefing them on the deliberations of a Cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

A Railway Ministry official said the MoU would include operational matters like increasing line capacity, maintenance and upgrading of tracks and structures, signalling, electric and diesel traction stock and power supply.

In addition, the two railway systems would also coperate in areas like Information Technology, training and telecommunications.

The official said a steering committee, comprising two officials each from India Railways and SNCF, would monitor the implementation of the projects falling within the MoU.

The French expertise in railways has been recognised in India since the early 70's with SNCF entering into some arrangement with Indian Railways.

From the late 90's, some French companies are active on the domestic market, either through international tenders (COGIFER, GEISMAR, CORYS TESS) or through setting up of local units by companies like ALSTOM and ALCATEL.

There has also been high participation of French companies in the Delhi Metro project through smart card ticketing, signalling and control and security system) and consultancy services for Kolkata metro.

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