Business / Industries

China high-speed rail makes tracks overseas

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-06-19 17:27

BEIJING - A high-speed railway in Russia will be the first time China's homegrown railway technology has been used abroad.

A consortium of China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEC) and two Russian firms agreed a contract worth 20.8 billion rubles (around $380 million) with Russian Railways on pre-construction surveys and design for 770 km of track linking Moscow and Kazan.

The railway is scheduled to be completed by 2018. With a maximum design speed of 400 km per hour, it will carry millions of passengers every year and reduce travel time from 14 hours to three and a half.

In the long run, the line will be extended to Yekaterinburg, some 1,600 km to the east of Moscow, and become part of a planned Beijing-Moscow high-speed corridor.

The project will stand as an example of infrastructure construction and be helpful to planned high-speed railways between Asia and Europe, said Li Yongquan, Russia expert with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Platform for success

The contract is the first export for China in this field after years of success at home. Contractors were rejected by Mexico last year and turned down by Thailand in May.

China's first bullet train shot from the assembly line in 2008 and soon gained fame for comfort and speed. High-speed rail has since been on the fast track, despite a fatal accident in 2011. China now has over 16,000 km of fast tracks and another 10,000 km under construction.

After the frustrations encountered in Mexico and Thailand, companies enhanced their export competence with mergers and better technology. The top two rail makers have merged to compete with international rivals.

Eager to reach out to the world, China's bullet trains and high-speed rail have become buzzwords in news coverage of meetings between Chinese leaders and their overseas counterparts.

Zhu Ying, CREEC president, told Xinhua that the contract "means a lot" to railway enterprises just setting out on their global journey. "The improvement of the high-speed rail industry builds their confidence."

Zhou Guohua, a railway analyst with Southwest Jiaotong University, said the Russian project will dispel many concerns about the reliability of China's technology.

"Trains operating safely at 400 km a hour under extreme climatic conditions will perfectly demonstrate our technological strength," Zhou said.

As for ambitious Chinese enterprises, Russia is only the first stop rather than the final destination as companies push their business in Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Chinese high-speed railways and standards will be gradually recognized by the whole world, Zhou said.

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