China wooing India for building high-speed rail networks

BEIJING: India’s first bullet train project may have gone to Japan but China is wooing the country to help build high-speed railway on other routes, claiming that it has the technology and expertise which could bring enormous economic and social benefits to the people.
With questions being raised on the cost factor involving setting up of high-speed railway networks, China has cited its own example of the profits that it is reaping now.
“The reason of introducing or promoting our high-speed railway (HSR) to other countries…is that we are confident in our technologies. The second reason is that we share a lot of similarities with southeast Asian countries in terms of large population and we are all developing countries,” Vice General Engineer of the China Railway Corporation Zhao Guotang told visiting journalists from India and some ASEAN nations at the China Railways headquarters here.
“We are also quite happy to share our experiences with these nations. The advantages brought by HSR to our economic and social development is quite remarkable and quite well known,” he said. Zhao, who holds the rank of a Deputy Minister, also asserted that the construction and operation of high-speed railway is economically sound.
Significantly, questions have been raised in India about the financial viability of setting up the HSR.
“For example Nanchang to Shanghai high-speed railway line started generating profits in the first year of its operation after opening to public. Beijing to Shanghai HSR, with a total distance of 1318 km, has been earning money in third year after being thrown open. Last year, it made a profit of over six billion RMB (USD 927 million) and this year, it is hoped it will exceed 10 billion RMB,” Zhao said.
“Beijing to Tianjin inter-city high-speed railway line has also realised profitability and Beijing to Guangzhou high-speed rail line realised balance. So, some people may say that profitability of high-speed railway is some kind of magic thing or marvellous thing, but I should say it is needed for country’s economic and social development. It is a good thing, we are happy to share our experiences with other countries,” he said.
Earlier, India’s move to opt for Japanese bullet trains on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route had raised concerns in China which is competing with Japan to build high-speed rail networks in India.
In addition to conducting a feasibility study to build a high-speed rail track on the 2,200-km Chennai-Delhi route, an India-China consortium is also conducting a study for the 1,200-km New Delhi-Mumbai corridor.
The proposed Chennai-Delhi corridor could be the second largest in the world after China’s 2,298 km-long Beijing- Guangzhou line which was launched three years ago.
Zhao said that “actually, people often tend to pay more attention to maximum speed of HSR, but what matters most for passengers is the average operational speed”.

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