New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Switzerland Vice President Simonetta Sommaruga on Monday called on Union Railway and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to discuss ways to boost cooperation between the two nations and to modernise railways. Sommaruga met Piyush Goyal in the rail bhawan here on Monday.
In a statement, the Swiss Embassy said, “the Indian government would like to strengthen the country’s railways and is interested in closer cooperation with Switzerland. A body has been set up to deepen this cooperation at a technical level.”
It said that the Indian government aims to strengthen the railways and is interested in obtaining innovative technologies, high-quality rolling stock and expertise, in order to electrify railway lines, modernise train stations and optimise operations and timetables.
“Switzerland and India therefore intend to cooperate more closely in future,” it said. The Embassy said that Sommaruga also attended the launch of the body set up for that purpose.
Goyal also took to Twitter and wrote, “Met the Vice President of Switzerland, S Sommaruga and discussed ways to boost cooperation between the two nations, aimed at obtaining cutting-edge technology and expertise for further modernisation of Railways.”
Later at the Swiss Embassy, Sommaruga inaugurated the Railtech Networking Forum organised by the Swiss Embassy. Speaking on the occasion, the Swiss leader recalled her journey to south India and travelling in Nilgiri train.
She said that both the countries have a deep-rooted history of cooperation and friendship as Switzerland swiftly recognized India’s Independence in 1947.
Sommaruga, who is also the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) Minister said, “both countries have long-standing railway traditions. Switzerland’s first train was operated in 1847 (Spanisch-Bratli Bahn) and India’s first train was a goods train that was started in 1837, and the first passenger train was operated in 1853.” She said the train is the “champion” as far as climate protection is concerned.
Stressing on the infrastructure building, she said both countries are investing in infrastructure. “Our centre-piece is the New Rail Link through the Alps, comprising three tunnels. The Gotthard is the world’s longest railway tunnel which is 57 km long and that brings northern and southern Europe closer,” she said.
“It reflects all what Switzerland stands for: innovation and precision, reliability and sustainability put into practice. It shows that pioneering achievements are still possible in the 21st century. And I am convinced that we can deepen our good cooperation even more. India is committed to further develop its public transport system. India will improve transport of goods and passengers, freight corridors, metro projects and construction of high-speed train tracks,” she said.
Hailing the Indian government for its vision, she said, “I am deeply impressed and delighted as Indian government has set aside funds for development and encouraged participation of both Indian and foreign players.”
She pointed out that Swiss companies were ready to contribute as they have reliable and efficient solutions in different areas such as electrification and traction, rolling stock, engineering, signaling and train control as well as maintenance systems.
“Our companies are pleased to explore collaborative opportunities. Today, more than 300 Swiss companies operate subsidiaries and joint ventures in India. They have created close to 1,00,000 jobs over the last two decades. It highlights the significance the Indian market bears for Swiss entrepreneurs.”
She also said that on academic level, Switzerland has two important collaborations in India.
“My ministry (transport) has an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the Indian railways to enable technical cooperation. And one of our federal institutes of technology (ETH Zurich) has a collaboration with Konkan Railways,” she said, adding that on the other side, Switzerland is one of the preferred gateways’ to the European market for close to 150 Indian companies.
She also said that for future developments: Swiss representations in India have launched the new initiative ‘Swiss it!’ this year.