Japan opens coffers for India’s first high-speed railway

Japan has finally signed off on the first loan to India for the construction of its first high-speed railway.

Officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, and the Indian government signed papers on 28 September for the initial tranche of approximately $787m.

Japan will lend India up to $12.8bn for the $15.8bn project, which will see Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains speeding up and down the 508-km-long line between Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, and the industrial city of Ahmedabad.

The two countries formally agreed on the deal back in December 2015, but a number of issues have delayed the scheme, including the vexed issue of land acquisitions.

According to one report, prepared by Arcadis, just under 15,000 households will need to be resettled to make way for the tracks.

However, with a general election looming for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April or May next year, India is aiming to start the service by 2023.

A deadline for acquiring all necessary land by December this year would likely be missed, officials have said.

Image: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, about to board a bullet train in Tokyo November 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)

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