India to start first bullet train project
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday inaugurated India's first bullet train project -- a $19 billion line in the home state of Indian leader Narendra Modi intended to revitalise the country's vast but dilapidated network.
The initiative is seen as emblematic of fast warming relations between New Delhi and Tokyo, who are seeking to combat China's growing influence.
It is also a new beginning for a rail transport system plagued by accidents and chronic delays.
The line, using Japanese trains and technology, will link Ahmedabad to India's financial capital Mumbai and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023.
The 500 kilometre (310 mile) journey will be cut from eight hours now to just over two hours when services start.
"I hope to enjoy the beauty of India through the windows of the bullet train with Modi on my side when I come to India in a few years," Abe told a ceremony in Ahmedabad.
"It marks the beginning of a new chapter in ties between India and Japan."
Abe's visit comes just after a border standoff between India and China in a disputed and strategically important Himalayan area. The two prime ministers both hailed the strengthened ties between their countries.
"The Indo-Japan relationship is not just about bilateral trade. It has developed into a strategic and global partnership in the Indian-Pacific region," said Abe.
Modi has pledged to invest billions of dollars to modernise India's creaking railway system that remains the main form of travel for millions. The bullet train is one of his pet projects.
"Today India has taken a giant step in fulfilling a long cherished dream," Modi said to loud cheers from the audience.
"The bullet train project will bring great speed, great development and great technology to the country."
- New Terrorism Law no silver bullet, says rights researcher
- Muslim inmates fed pork during Ramadhan: Activists
- France arrests two spies for passing secrets to China
- Costly holiday
- BREAKING: Indonesia passes stronger antiterrorism law
- Government is representation of God on earth: State Palace official
- Indonesia shakes off nerves for Thomas Cup semifinal against China
- Malaysia's defeated UMNO party asks for its money back
- US wasted billions in failed Afghan stabilization efforts: official
- Everest's Hillary Step now a 'slope': Climber