India and China today agreed to enhance cooperation in the rail sector as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang chalked out an action plan for progress on various projects, including for raising train speeds to up to 160-kmph on existing routes.
Training for handling heavy haul operations and assistance in the setting up of a railway university, too, were in the focus during discussions between the two leaders in Chinese capital Beijing, rail officials said here.
Railways had identified nine routes, including Delhi-Agra and Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore, for running trains at an increased speed of 160-kmph. Railways is keen to raise train speeds on the existing lines with an upgrade of the signalling system and strengthening of tracks.
China will also be conducting a feasibility study for running trains at 300-kmph between Delhi and Nagpur, part of the proposed Delhi-Chennai Diamond Quadrilateral corridor project.
The Delhi-Nagpur route is being taken up as part of the first phase of the Delhi-Chennai corridor. A Chinese team has already made a visit and the preliminary report is expected in six months, said a senior railway ministry official.
The proposed Diamond Quadrilateral project aims to reduce travel time between the metros through a high-speed train network, including between Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Chennai-Kolkata, Kolkata-Delhi and Mumbai-Kolkata. The project is likely to cost Rs 2 lakh crore.
Japan is involved in the 534-km Mumbai-Ahmedabad high- speed corridor project, estimated to cost Rs 63,180 crore. The Japan International Cooperation Agency is currently conducting a feasibility study for this project.
China has also agreed to impart training to Indian Railways on heavy haul operations. Heavy haul transportation is essential for the railways' ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor project.
Apart from train operations, Chinese expertise will also be roped in for the setting up of a railway university in the country.
"Railway Staff College at Baroda will be upgraded to a full-fledged Railway Univeristy with China's help," the official said.
According to the action plan, China will cooperate on the redevelopment of the Bhubaneswar and Baiyappanahalli stations as railways has proposals to revamp some selected stations to turn them into world-class stations.