Rail commuters in Mumbai (Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons)

Japan targets Indian high-speed rail with big finance offer

28 October 2015 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

Japan has offered to finance India’s first bullet train, estimated to cost $15bn, at an interest rate of less than 1%, officials said, stealing a march on its rail rival, China.

Tokyo’s push in India comes just weeks after it lost out to China on the contract to build Indonesia’s first high-speed railway.

“There are several (players) offering the high-speed technology. But technology and funding together, we only have one offer. That is the Japanese”– A. K. Mital, the chairman of the Indian Railway Board

India’s cabinet will take a decision on the Japanese proposal over the next few weeks, an Indian railway official said, according to Indian newspaper The Economic Times.

Tokyo was picked to assess the feasibility of building the 505-kilometre corridor linking Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, and concluded it would be technically and financially viable.

The project to build and supply the route will be put out to tender, but offering finance makes Japan the clear frontrunner, The Economic Times reported.

“There are several (players) offering the high-speed technology. But technology and funding together, we only have one offer. That is the Japanese,” A. K. Mital, the chairman of the Indian Railway Board, which manages the network, told the newspaper.

Japan has offered to meet 80% of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project cost, on condition that India buys 30% of equipment, including the coaches and locomotives, from Japanese firms, officials said.

Japan’s NHK broadcaster quoted Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii as saying that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had instructed him to step up exports of transport systems to India and Southeast Asia.

Last month China won the contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed train between Delhi and Mumbai, a 1,200-km route.

Photograph: Rail commuters in Mumbai (Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons)