France to help India modernise railway system

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French transport minister says that France will sign an agreement with India to help modernise its railway system and introduce fast trains.

14 May 2008

MUMBAI - France will sign an agreement with India to help modernise its massive railway system with a focus on safety, training and technology including fast trains, the French transport minister said Tuesday.

"Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français - the French National Railway Company - and the Indian Railways will co-operate through companies to modernise the railways in India," Dominique Bussereau, French state transport minister said.

"Our focus will be to increase safety measures, prevent fires, introduction of high-speed trains and personnel training," the minister told reporters.

France currently holds the record for the world's fastest commercial passenger train service at 320 kilometres per hour, he said.

The agreements will be signed in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Bussereau arrived in India Monday, on a three-day-visit to boost partnership in railways, aviation and freight transport systems between the two countries.

French and Indian Railways will tackle issues like overcrowding, railway track repairs, signalling, information technology and training, officials from both services added.

The state-run Indian railways, started by India's former British colonial rulers, has around 1.6 million employees - making it the world's biggest civilian employer - and runs thousands of trains daily.

But the 150-year-old railway, which transports more than 15 million people daily in the country of 1.1 billion people, has been notorious for deadly accidents, antiquated equipment, financial losses, delays and red tape.

The Indian Railways have posted a record USD 6.3-billion-surplus for the financial year 2007-08, Railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav said in February
this year.

The French transport minister and his team leaves for capital New Delhi later Tuesday to meet civil aviation minister Praful Patel to discuss issues like building airport infrastructure, control tower systems and pilot training.

[AFP / Expatica]

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