Tokyo was picked to assess the feasibility of building the 505-kilometre corridor linking Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, and concluded it would be technically and financially viable.
               
The project to build and supply the route will be put out to tender, but offering finance makes Japan the clear frontrunner.
               
Japan's decision to give virtually free finance for Modi's pet programme is part of its broader push back against China's involvement in infrastructure development in South Asia over the past several years.
               
"There are several (players) offering the high-speed technology. But technology and funding together, we only have one offer. That is the Japanese," said AK Mital, the chairman of the Indian Railway Board, which manages the network.
               
The two projects are part of a 'Diamond Qaudrilateral' of high speed trains over 10,000 km of track that India wants to set up connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
              
Japan has offered to meet 80 percent of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project cost, on condition that India buys 30 percent of equipment including the coaches and locomotives from Japanese firms, officials said.
               
Japan's International Cooperation Agency, which led the feasibility survey, said the journey time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad would be cut to two hours from seven. The route will require 11 new tunnels including one undersea near Mumbai.
               
"What complicates the process is Japanese linking funding to use of their technology. There must be tech transfer," said Mital.

 

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