France betting big on Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail link: Envoy

Kolkata : Calling for enhanced cooperation between the Indian and the French railways, French Ambassador to India Francois Richier Wednesday exuded confidence of his country’s partnership in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail link.

The French envoy asserted the negotiations for the $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project for 126 Rafale fighters were on fast track and expected them to be finalised soon.

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“The feasibility study is going on in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project. We are good at bullet trains and recently I had a talk with Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu where we discussed about how we can extend our cooperation in railways including in the fields of technology and other expertise,” Richier, on a three-day visit to the city, told mediapersons.

The railways ministry earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the French National Railway (SNCF) to jointly carry out “operations and development” feasibility of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed link which will be India’s maiden high-speed rail project.

“The SNCF is involved in the feasibility study and I hope there is enhanced cooperation between the railways of the two countries. I will also be writing to the SNCF chairman to bring him to India,” said Richier.

Talking about the Rafale fighter jets deal, Richer said the complexities involved have been delaying the talks but asserted the stakeholders from both countries have fast-tracked the negotiations.

“After we won the right for the deal in 2012 there has been some delay due to the complexities that involve transfer of technology and other aspects.

“It has been almost three years since and many people think that it got stuck. But now both the countries are pushing for the deal and negotiations have been fast tracked,” said Richier.

French company Dassault Aviation won the right in 2012 to enter exclusive negotiations with India to supply 126 Rafale fighters jets.