Premier Li Keqiang has said ‘integrating’ China’s technology in India’s railway and energy sectors would be a “breakthrough” in Sino-Indian cooperation, as both countries finalised plans to modernise Indian Railways with Chinese technical assistance.

“We have to integrate our technologies of high-speed railways and energy equipment with the Indian market as a breakthrough in Sino-Indian cooperation,” Mr Li said during a meeting with Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Mr Ahluwalia, who headed the Indian delegation at the third round of Strategic Economic Dialogue held in Beijing this week, called on Mr Li on Wednesday during which he apprised him of progress made in specific proposals relating Chinese cooperation to modernise Indian railways, including heavy haul of freight, improving existing rail lines to drastically increase the speed of trains.

Indian officials say New Delhi is seeking Chinese assistance for track improvement to increase the speed of trains up to 180 kmph, which they say is a cheaper option compared to high speed trains, as they require exclusive tracks covered on both sides entailing issues like land acquisition as well as big expenditure amounting to Rs. 120 crore a km.

The Indian delegation included Railway Board Chairman Arunanendra Kumar and a team of senior officials.

For high speed track development, India has proposed Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Chandigarh sectors as pilot projects to China. The move was expected to gather steam after the general elections in India.

Mr Ahluwalia was confident that whatever the composition of the new government in New Delhi they would back the projects as they are most feasible at present.

Indian railway construction is expected to showcase Sino-India cooperation, state-run China Daily quoted officials as saying after Mr Ahluwalia’s meeting with Li.

At the SED, the two sides signed memorandums and pacts on sustainable urbanisation, IT and the energy sector.

The construction and upgrading of the Sino-Indian railway topped the agenda of the SED meeting, which was presided over by Mr Ahluwalia and Mr Xu Shaoshi, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Mr Ahluwalia also held talks with top officials of the state owned China Development Bank, which finances infrastructure projects all over the world.

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