Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday defended the bullet train project for and said it will usher in new technology in the country and lead to enhanced safety on Indian Railways.
Cooperation with Japan will help India get technological know-how as Japan runs the world’s most safe train services, the minister told the Lok Sabha members.
“The technology to be used for bullet trains will help improve the services of normal trains and the integration of signalling system,” Prabhu said.
Prabhu said the huge funds earmarked for the bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in Gujarat was actually based on the financial support from Japan and will not create hurdles in the running of “normal express trains” in the country.
There is no conflict between the proposed launch of a bullet train and the normal functioning of the Indian Railways, the minister told the parliamentarians.
“The bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is only a chhota sa hissa (small part) of the India-Japan cooperation on railways.”
He wondered if a “deliberate misinformation” campaign was going on in the country against the introduction of bullet trains.
The collaboration with the Japanese on railways has been strengthened after the present government came to power and the initiatives by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.
The minister said since the Allahabad-Mughal Sarai route was the country’s most congested, it prevented the launch of high-speed train service between Delhi and Kolkata.
“We are trying to improve the situation. At present the route is being used more than its capacity,” he said.
During a debate in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday on the demand for grants for the Railways, Prabhu brushed aside criticism of the expensive bullet trains, saying the government had managed to secure a soft loan of Rs.1 lakh crore from Japan at 0.1 percent interest.