AHMEDABAD, Sept 14 - The countdown to India�s first bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai began today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe launching the Rs 1.10 lakh crore project.
Modi described the ambitious project, which is expected to be completed by 2022 and will cut travel time between the two cities from seven hours to less than three, as a �big gift from Japan to India�. Addressing crowds gathered at the Athletics Stadium in Sabarmati for the event, Abe said the Indo-Japan partnership was special, strategic and global.
�A strong India is in Japan�s interest and a strong Japan is in India�s interest,� Abe said after the two leaders pressed a button, unveiling a plaque.
�My good friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a farsighted leader. He took a decision two years ago to bring a high-speed train in India and to create a new India,� he said.
Abe added that he hoped to enjoy the �beautiful scenery of India through the windows of the bullet train� when he returns in a few years.
He said the launch of the bullet train by Japan�s Shinkansen Technology, which will also provide technology for India�s project, had changed the country�s economy, society and people�s lives.
Congratulating the people of India, Modi said this was �a bold step towards realising an old dream of a bullet train�.
Lauding Japan, he said the country was such a friend that it gave a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent interest for the project. Modi also took a dig at the Opposition which had often sounded sceptical about the bullet train project.
�When earlier I talked about bullet train, they (Opposition) used to say it was big talk, and now when it has come they are saying what is the need for it,� Modi said.
�Our stress is now on high-speed connectivity which will improve speed, reduce distance and ensure economic progress,� he added. In 1964, Modi said, Japan started the bullet train and now this technology is in 15 countries. � PTI