Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laugh during the launch of work on a high-speed train line in the western Indian state of Gujarat, in Ahmadabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The 500-kilometer (310-mile) project will be financed by a Japanese credit of $17 billion and is expected to be completed by 2022. The loan carries a nominal interest rate of 0.1 percent to be paid over the next 50 years. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
a partnership that runs on rails? Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laugh during the launch of work on a high-speed train line in the western Indian staShow more

India's first bullet train project fast-tracks stronger ties with Japan



Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday inaugurated India's first bullet train project — a $19 billion (Dh69.8 billion) line in the home state of Indian leader Narendra Modi which is  intended to revitalise the country's vast but dilapidated railway network.

The initiative is seen as emblematic of fast-warming relations between New Delhi and Tokyo, who are seeking to combat China's growing influence.It is also a new beginning for a rail transport system plagued by accidents and chronic delays.

Using Japanese trains and technology, the line will link Ahmedabad to India's financial capital Mumbai and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023.

The 500 kilometre journey between the two cities will be cut from eight hours now to just over two hours when services start.

"I hope to enjoy the beauty of India through the windows of the bullet train with Modi on my side when I come to India in a few years," Mr Abe said at a ceremony in Ahmedabad. "It marks the beginning of a new chapter in ties between India and Japan."

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Mr Abe's visit follows a recent border standoff between India and China in a disputed and strategically important area of the Himalayas. The two prime ministers both hailed the strengthened ties between their countries.

"The Indo-Japan relationship is not just about bilateral trade. It has developed into a strategic and global partnership in the Indian-Pacific region," Mr Abe said.

— Giant step for India —

Mr Modi has pledged to invest billions of dollars to modernise India's creaking railway system that remains the main form of travel for millions. The bullet train is one of his pet projects.

"Today India has taken a giant step in fulfilling a long cherished dream," he said to loud cheers from the audience. "The bullet train project will bring great speed, great development and great technology to the country."

The new train with a capacity to carry 750 passengers is a bright hope for the world's fourth largest network by track length. However, much of it dates from the British colonial era.More than 22 million passengers commute daily on about 9,000 trains across the network despite frequent accidents and delays.More than 200 people have already died in trail derailments this year, including one last month in which 23 were killed in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

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Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks and the project is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Japan's Shinkansen Technology. The punctuality and zero-accident record of the ultra-efficient Shinkansen is a source of great pride for Japan.The train has a top speed of up to 350 kilometres an hour -- more than double the maximum speed of the fastest trains operating in India.

Japan, which is providing 85 per cent of the cost of the new train link in soft loans, will also facilitate transfer of technology through training of local engineers.

The two leaders were are also tipped to sign several bilateral agreements at the annual India-Japan summit on Thursday.

it is also believed that Japan was likely to take up the sale of ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft that India has been interested in for several years.

The aircraft is expected to boost India's maritime capabilities against a more assertive China.

On Wednesday, Mr Modi welcomed Mr Abe at the airport with his traditional big hug before the Japanese premier and his wife changed into Indian dress.

The two leaders are known to have a strong personal rapport that has accelerated crucial ties between two of Asia's biggest democracies.

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5 of the most-popular Airbnb locations in Dubai

Bobby Grudziecki, chief operating officer of Frank Porter, identifies the five most popular areas in Dubai for those looking to make the most out of their properties and the rates owners can secure:

• Dubai Marina

The Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence are popular locations, says Mr Grudziecki, due to their closeness to the beach, restaurants and hotels.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh482 to Dh739 
Two bedroom: Dh627 to Dh960 
Three bedroom: Dh721 to Dh1,104

• Downtown

Within walking distance of the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the famous fountains, this location combines business and leisure.  “Sure it’s for tourists,” says Mr Grudziecki. “Though Downtown [still caters to business people] because it’s close to Dubai International Financial Centre."

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh497 to Dh772
Two bedroom: Dh646 to Dh1,003
Three bedroom: Dh743 to Dh1,154

• City Walk

The rising star of the Dubai property market, this area is lined with pristine sidewalks, boutiques and cafes and close to the new entertainment venue Coca Cola Arena.  “Downtown and Marina are pretty much the same prices,” Mr Grudziecki says, “but City Walk is higher.”

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh524 to Dh809 
Two bedroom: Dh682 to Dh1,052 
Three bedroom: Dh784 to Dh1,210 

• Jumeirah Lake Towers

Dubai Marina’s little brother JLT resides on the other side of Sheikh Zayed road but is still close enough to beachside outlets and attractions. The big selling point for Airbnb renters, however, is that “it’s cheaper than Dubai Marina”, Mr Grudziecki says.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh422 to Dh629 
Two bedroom: Dh549 to Dh818 
Three bedroom: Dh631 to Dh941

• Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah's proximity to luxury resorts is attractive, especially for big families, says Mr Grudziecki, as Airbnb renters can secure competitive rates on one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.

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One bedroom: Dh503 to Dh770 
Two bedroom: Dh654 to Dh1,002 
Three bedroom: Dh752 to Dh1,152 

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