Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu urged Switzerland for support so that the upcoming George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology in Goa “bring-in best of knowledge” into the field as he congratulated the Swiss government on official opening of the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel today.
“We hope this technology institute bring in best of knowledge and becomes repository of new global practices. I urge you to make collaboration to help make this institute bring in best knowledge into the field,” Prabhu said while addressing a function to mark the inauguration of 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT).
Last year, it was announced that Konkan Railway would set up George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology in Margao, which, in partnership with Goa University, will promote education and research in tunneling technology.
As per an estimate, in India, about 1,500 km of tunnels exist and 1,000 km of tunnels are under construction and another 2,000 km of tunnels are in planning stage. These include tunnels for railways, metro rails, roadways, hydroelectricity, water, sewerage and irrigation, he said.
The Minister also exuded confidence that two countries “would find the ways of collaborations” and also operationalise the existing agreements between them.
“I hope in the next few months itself, we will find ways of collaboration and operationalise our existing agreements and make sure the agreements do not remain on papers but will be actually working on the tracks…Tunnel will bring in closeness between the two nations,” he said.
The Minister also urged for global collaboration in various initiatives of the railways, including its modernisation, construction of new lines, augmenting capacity of the existing lines, bringing in high speed railways, semi-high speed railways and improvement in safety and punctuality.
“So all this is something we would like to work with. We are happy that we are also exploring possibility of working with all the global players to find out best practices how to collaborate for mutual benefit. We already have such understanding and agreement with 13-14 countries,” he said.
He said India would also “look forward” to work with Switzerland to find out how best both countries could benefit from such collaborations.
Speaking on the occasion, Swiss Ambassador to India Linus von Castelmur expressed eagerness to cooperate with India in the areas of innovation and technology.
The Gotthard project would help spark off “innovative ideas for bilateral cooperation with India”, he noted.
The world’s longest tunnel officially opened today, linking the North and South of Europe after 17 years of construction work. GBT has surpassed Japan’s 53.9-kilometre Seikan tunnel as the world’s longest train tunnel.