India keen to locally manufacture and export bullet train coaches
Fukuoka (Japan): India has proposed to Japan that it is keen to manufacture and export the bullet train coaches which could bring down the cost of operating the Shinkansen trains in the country, a senior official of the Indian Railways said on Thursday.
India is building the country's first high speed rail corridor between Mumbai to Ahmedabad which is expected to be operational by 2022. Initially, India is set to buy 18 such Shinkansen trains from Japan for Rs 7,000 crore.
"We have proposed to the Japanese side that they help us with the technology to make the bullet train coaches locally. Once we do that, we can build the coaches at a much lower cost. In fact they would be the cheapest in the world," Rajesh Agarwal, Member, Rolling Stock, Railway Board said on the sidelines of a conference here on high speed railways.
"Then we can take them across the world. Many countries would rather buy it from us rather than China. Be it countries in South-East Asia, even Europe and the USA," he said.
He said that the Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh is well equipped to produce the coaches.
"Add to this around 150,000 skilled workers, 50 railway workshops and around six production units that railway has at it's disposal," Agarwal said.
The Ambassador of Japan to India Kenji Hiramatsu said that the discussions over manufacturing the Shinkansen coaches locally were going on.
"The discussions on this is going on. I believe it's best to manufacture locally and we are seriously thinking about it," he told this reporter. If the move works out, it will also open a new business opportunity for the state-owned organisation which is reeling under high operating costs.
The scope for high-speed railways across the globe has huge potential. It is currently in different stages in the USA, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
"The idea is to get Japan to produce not just the rolling stock for railways in India but also other sectors like defence using our manufacturing units. That will be a big takeaway," said Agarwal. The 508-km long bullet train corridor in India will have 12 stations, with about 350-km of it in Gujarat and 150-km in Maharashtra.
The bullet trains with 10 coaches each, will have one business class coach and nine standard coaches each.
The lowest fare is expected to be Rs 250 and the maximum Rs 3,000. Land acquisition is underway for the project.
The government has already started getting funds from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, which is providing a soft loan of Rs 88,000 crore for the project over 50 years at an annual interest rate of 0.1 per cent. Repayments will start after a moratorium of 15 years from the date the loan was released.