Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Use existing rail lines for freight, lay new tracks for passengers

Mamuni Das
Yoshiyuki Kasai, Chairman, Japan Railway-Central
Yoshiyuki Kasai, Chairman, Japan Railway-Central
Japan Railway chief’s radical new mantra
Japan may be part-funding the construction of a new dedicated freight line on the western corridor for the Indian Railways. But that has not prevented Yoshiyuki Kasai, Chairman of Japan Railway-Central (JRC), from suggesting a radically different path for India’s rail system.
His mantra: use the existing rail tracks to provide freight service, and invest in building high speed systems moving passengers.
Strong metro network

JRC runs the Tokaido Shinkansen, popularly called the bullet trains, as well as trains that use magnetic levitation technology.
It has offered technological support to India to set up a high speed rail systems.
“India has a fairly developed network of conventional lines. Eventually, the conventional lines should be made use for freight movement. Given the huge geographical size of country, it is not wise to connect the entire network by railways. Railways can handle urban traffic — I suggest metro systems for all cities,” Kasai told Business Line, when asked about his strategy for Indian Railways.
India should invest in cutting edge rail technology for the future, said Kasai.
When asked how important a parameter is the per capita income of people in a country to implement the strategy that he was suggesting, Kasai stated, “It is a chicken and egg story. I believe India has great potential for development.
“Think of investment in high speed railway as something that would drive economic growth. I don’t think you should invest in infrastructure that suits your current income levels and then use it for the next fifty years. The conventional lines can be used for lower cost travel options. At the same time, you can invest in newer technology — high speed trains.”
However, Kasai made it clear that JRC was not looking to invest in high-speed rail systems in India and that the Indian Government would have to fund a large part of the infrastructure.
(This article was published on March 17, 2014)

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