Superior technology and their experience in safety and signaling give Japanese firms an edge over the Chinese, who might have pitched strongly to become the technology partner for the upcoming Rs 63,000-crore high-speed rail project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, according to officials in the Railway ministry.
Despite being cheaper, the Chinese technology is not the preferred option. Senior railway officials say besides technology, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is likely to fund the high speed project. Officials said there was no formal movement on Chinese financing for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor though China could look at funding future corridors.
A feasibility study is being undertaken by JICA, which is likely to conclude early next year. Besides, a business development study by French Railways (SNCF) is also underway. Key locomotive manufacturers like Alstom and Bombardier have also shown interest for supplying locomotives.
JICA has been financing key railway projects like Western arm of the dedicated freight corridor, while two Chinese companies – CSR Sifang and CNR — are strong contenders for Rs 3,000-crore locomotive projects in Madhepura and Marhowra.
“The Japanese have mastered the art of tunneling with about 74% of its network in the hilly terrain. They are exemplary in signaling, control, rolling stock and in their safety record. As for the Chinese, there could be knowledge sharing on project implementation since they have created one of the largest high speed network within few years,” said a senior railway official who did not want to be named.The Japanese are deemed superior in terms of signaling, control, rolling stock and safety record
Recently, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pitched for a Shinkansen style high-speed train system in India. The Shinkansen bullet train system, which literally means the ‘new trunk line’, is the world’s first system for high-speed trains running up to 320 km per hour.
Japanese companies had earlier supplied technology to the Chinese. Later, the Japanese accused China of copying their patented technology and competing with them in the global market. Kawasaki Heavy Industries , maker of Shinkansen bullet trains, after signing technology transfers with CSR Sifang, the builder of China’s high-speed rail, said it regretted its now-dissolved partnership. Although the Japanese firm threatened legal action for patent infringement, it changed its mind, of late.
Experts and industry experts argue that India is not the only country where China and Japan are at loggerheads to sell their technology. “China is in talks with more than 15 countries to sell their technology. Some of the contracts are based on exchange of natural resources, competing directly with the United States and Japan. However, their first ever technology transfer to Turkey for high-speed rail was not without glitches,” said an industry expert, who did not want to be named.
The China Railway Construction Corporation and the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation won the bid in 2005 to build the railway line in partnership with two Turkish companies between Ankara and Istanbul. “..Both countries have admitted to difficulties during the process. The project has reportedly been beset with problems such as delays and accidents,” reports New York Times.