INDO-FRENCH Seminar on Rail Sector Inaugurated

नई दिल्ली New Delhi:  Mr Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Government of India, and H.E. Mr Francois Richier, Ambassador of France to India, today inaugurated a daylong Indo-French Rail Seminar on “High- and Semi-High Speed, Multimodal Stations – Infrastructure and Financing” in New Delhi. This seminar aims to expand the scope of Indo-French cooperation in the railways sector with emphasis on developing high-speed and semi-high-speed train systems in India and the creation of multimodal stations integrating several modes of public transport. Mr Arunendra Kumar, Chairman of the Railway Board, Member Engineering Railway Board Shri VK Gupta were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Suresh Prabhu said that there are multiple areas in Rail sector where India and France can work together. He said that we need to find solutions and prepare plans of action for mutual cooperation. He called upon French companies to increase their presence in India as doing business in India is not that cumbersome. Referring to the emphasis on high speed travel given by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narender Modi , the Railway Minister said that there is a section of commuters who are willing to pay a higher fare and want high speed travel and Indian railways has earnestly embarked upon the path of developing high speed corridors in India. Shri Prabhu sought cooperation of France in high speed train operations and also in areas of safety, customer service and station development and multimodal stations. The Minister said that safety is of paramount importance in the interest of commuters. Shri Prabhu said that as a commuter spends maximum time in a rail compartment, there is a need to upgrade and innovate facilities and services to make it more comfortable. Shri Prabhu said that India is trying to develop its rail network to global standards and the cooperation with countries like France will be quite meaningful to achieve this objective.

H.E. Mr Francois Richier, Ambassador of France to India and Shri Arunendra Kumar, Chairman of the Railway Board also spoke on the occasion.

This seminar is being organized jointly by Indian Railways and the Regional Economic Department of the Embassy of France in India, with the objective of bringing together recognized specialists in the railway sector from France and India, and brainstorm to find the best solutions for an Indian high-speed and semi-high speed railway along with multimodal stations. French expertise and technology, brought by the French companies operating in India, can play their role in this process.

Three sessions are being organized during the seminar, each with a specific focus: High-Speed and Semi-High-Speed, the concept of multimodality in stations and the type of financing required for such modern railway networks in India. Indian Railways is making presentations about their strategy, plans and requirements for each of these topics followed by presentations from the French side (public institutions and private sector companies). French actors will showcase their expertise as technological solutions for the Indian Railways to build a high-speed and semi-high-speed network. Each session is to be concluded with a panel discussion to facilitate direct interaction between French and Indian railway experts and address the audience queries.

India and France have a long-standing bilateral co-operation in the railway sector of over 30 years. This was given a concrete shape by the signing of the first protocol in 2003. During the State Visit to India by the President of France, Mr Francois Hollande, in February 2013, the French Railways (the SNCF), and Indian Railways (IR) signed a new Memorandum of Understanding centred on 4 key areas of co-operation, namely: 1) high-speed trains, 2) station renovation, 3) urban trains and 4) railway network modernization. In June 2014, the French Railways (SNCF) concluded and presented to the Indian Railways a feasibility study on “operations and development” for high speed rail on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor(534 km). This report is under examination of the Railway Board.