India could accelerate its rail upgrading process and shorten the investment time if it cooperated with China, which has the world’s most extensive rail network and advanced technology, a Chinese daily said today. India’s railway network, often called the lifeline of the country, plays a critical role in its economic development, carrying more than 23 million passengers and three million tonnes of freight on 19,000 trains a day, the state-run Global Times reported. Given China’s advanced technology and experience in infrastructure construction, cooperation with China would offer a shortcut for countries like India that tend to copy the China model, the article said. In January, at least 36 people were killed in a train derailment in southern India, just two months after 150 people died in another train derailment in northern India.
Dilapidated infrastructure and poor management are the main reasons for the accidents, which is why the government has pledged to invest USD 137 billion over five years in upgrading the rail network. India has said that it needs to put major investment into the rail sector in the coming 30 years to catch up with China, adding that rising debt should not be a concern, as it is an inevitable part of revamping infrastructure. Over the past decade, China has developed a new high- speed rail network, surpassing western countries in terms of technology and standards, the report said.
As the only country that has pursued large-scale railway construction in recent years, China now has the world’s most extensive rail network, it said. This “unparallelled” advantage makes China a “perfect partner” for any country seeking to develop transportation infrastructure to propel economic growth, it said. It also makes perfect sense for India to take a shortcut to cooperate with China in order to revitalise its rail system and management levels, the report added.