France to help India realise high-speed train dream

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France has offered to build India’s first high-speed train line between Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad. French companies are also willing to set up manufacturing facilities in India for production of high-speed trains with related infrast-ructure.

French transport minister Thierry Mariani met railways minister Dinesh Trivedi on Friday to discuss possibilities around providing inf-rastructure for rail networks as well as manufacturing of high-speed trains in India.

“French government has agreed to finance feasibility study (for high-speed train network) in India. It is more of a medium-to-long term project and not really short-term. For the short-term, we have also discussed renovation of classical (railway) lines in India,” Mariani said on his four-day visit to India. He added that it typically takes four to five years to develop a rail network.

France has offered to chip in with companies that have been responsible for shaping up the European nation’s high-speed railway system. This involves Fre-nch companies such as SNCF (national corporation of French railways), the country’s state-owned railway network operator; RFF (or the French rail network) that takes care of maintenance and a public sector company involved in regulating safety aspects in railways, Mariani said. “If given some contracts, companies such as Alstom can set up units in India for production of railway (systems),” Mariani added.

Trivedi is expected to visit France April-end this year to take a look at France’s railway operations. Indian Railways has identified six corridors for building high-speed rail networks in the country but are yet to execute them.

Last month, Trivedi had said that India has decided to set up a high-level working group along with Japan – the pioneer in bullet trains, to examine various issues relating to establishment of high-speed rail corridors in the country.

Mariani will meet civil aviation minister Ajit Singh and UDD minister Kamal Nath during his visit lasting till February 27. “The EU-ETS (emission trading system) will of course be one subject (to discuss with Singh),” Mariani said, without divulging nature of discussions to be held. India along with 22 other nations has opposed EU’s decision to impose carbon tax on all flights landing or taking off from Europe under ETS.

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