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High-speed trains, nuclear power 'crucial' for India's growth: Japan's rail chief


Enhancing public mobility through high-speed train networks would boost India's economic growth, the Chairman of the Central Japan Railway Company, Yoshiyuki Kasai, asserted at an Ananta Aspen Centre session in New Delhi earlier today.

The session, hosted in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was chaired by Tarun Das, Former Chief Mentor of CII and Co-Chair of the US-Japan-India Trilateral Track II Strategic Dialogue.

In an engaging presentation, Kasai-also the Co-Chair of the US-Japan-India Trilateral Track II Strategic Dialogue-highlighted the Japanese experience with high-speed trains.

"Japanese high-speed railway system is designed to minimise travel time for commuters, which has a great economic benefit. High-speed railways makes travel time between cities shorter by several hours. Due to this, different cities are integrated into a single economic lifezone," stressed Kasai.

The Central Japan Railway Company (JRC) operates the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train system that links Japan's principal metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. JRC is also the developer of the maximum speed 581 km/h Superconducting Maglev (SCMAGLEV) System.

Reflecting on the potential for replication of Japan's widely lauded 'Tokaido' train model in India, Kasai said, "India has a strong conventional railway network. However, there is immense potential for high-speed trains in an industrialising India. There will be cost implications to setup a high-speed railway network between important Indian towns and cities lying within a 500 kilometre radius, but the long-term economic and social impact will be huge. This can be done through public-private partnership to minimise the financial burden."

Kasai joined Japan Railway (JNR) in 1963 and played a major role in JNR's reform. After the break-up and privatization of JNR, he was appointed President of JRC in 1995, and then Chairman in 2004. He succeeded in dramatically improving the Tokaido Shinkansen transport service by opening the new Shinagawa Station and achieving the speed-up of all Shinkansen trains to 270 km/h in 2003.

Hailing India-Japan ties, Kasai identified nuclear energy as a possible avenue of cooperation between the two Asian nations.

"India is one of the best countries for Japan. We have common cultural linkages, and substantial bilateral cooperation exists on a wide range of issues. In my view, nuclear cooperation is an area where India and Japan need to work together. India-Japan nuclear power cooperation is not only possible, but also necessary. India is developing and industrialising at a rapid pace, and its energy needs will also grow. I feel nuclear energy is crucial to meet this growth. Safety issues can always be taken care of," Kasai opined.

An extraordinary thought-leader on Asia and the World, Kasai is also the Chairman of the "Committee on Space Policy", Extraordinary Commissioner of the "Fiscal System Council", and member of the "Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security". Mr. Kasai has published four books, including "Japanese Railways, its Break-up and Privatization (2003)". He earned his B.L. from the University of Tokyo in 1962 and his M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969.

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First Published: Tue, March 11 2014. 18:13 IST