India’s cabinet has cleared a $14.7 billion Japanese proposal to build its first bullet train line, an Indian government minister and official said on Thursday, one of India’s biggest foreign investments in its infrastructure sector.
The decision ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit beginning on Friday gives Japan an early lead over China, which is also bidding to build high-speed rail lines across large parts of India’s congested and largely British-era system.
Japan had offered to finance 80% of the cost of the train linking financial capital Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the commercial centre of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, at an interest rate of less than 1%.
“It’s been done,” a government minister who attended the cabinet meeting headed by Modi late on Wednesday said.
An official in Modi’s office confirmed the decision, saying there were some issues relating to the bullet train but that had since been sorted out in time for Abe’s visit.
“We expect to make an announcement during the visit,” the official said. Both the minister and the official declined to be identified.