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Bidding starts on high-speed railway
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-24 02:54

International rail engineering companies are expected to bid next week on the planned Beijing-Tianjin high-speed railway project, a well-placed source from the Ministry of Railways said yesterday.

But the source gave no details about how many international bidders will participate in the activity or just who they are.

The China Star, China's first home-made high-speed locomotive, is shown in this undated file photo. [newsphoto]  
The planned rail link between the nation's capital and its neighbouring Tianjin Municipality is estimated to cost about 14.3 billion yuan (US$1.73 billion).

The 140-kilometre high-speed railway will get commuters between the two metropolis in half an hour if it were completed, according to the ministry's plan.

The Beijing Railways Bureau serves as the tenderer and established an office to deal with the issue.

This Sunday will be the deadline for the international companies to submit bids, said a source from a German engineering company involved in the competition.

The source declined to give his name and preferred not to disclose his company's name for the time being, saying the bidders should not make public the detailed information about the project prior to the deadline, according to related regulations.

"The tenderer will assess the bids starting next week and finalize the winner of the project a few weeks later," the source said.

The project is scheduled to start construction before June and begin operating in 2007, Dai Xianglong, mayor of Tianjin Municipality was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

The rail project is considered a step towards regional economic integration. Thanks to the project, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will become the third pole of economic growth after the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas.

To alleviate the nation's rail bottleneck upon the rapid economic growth, China has unveiled a national plan for mid- and long-term railway development.

The Chinese Government has approved building 3,000 kilometres of high speed railways, Vice-Minister of Railways Lu Dongfu said at a conference in December.

They include rail tracks from Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province to Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province and from Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province to Xi'an, capital of Northwest Shaanxi Province.

And Beijing-Tianjin rail link is also on the list of approved projects to be built.

All the railways are for trains that run above 200 kilometres per hour, according to the railway ministry's plan.

International rail engineering companies have kept an eye on the projects, but whether to use rail-and-track or Maglev (magnetic levitation) technologies has caused hot debate among Chinese experts.

The controversy particularly occurred to the planned Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, which is still waiting for approval from the central government.

The rail link, measuring more than 1,300 kilometres in length, is estimated to involve 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) in total investment.

Initiated in 1994, the high-speed railway is considered as the second largest proposal after the Three Gorges Project in terms of investment scale.

International competitions for the huge project are becoming increasingly intense among Japan's Shinkansen, France's TGV and Germany's ICE which are seen as the most advanced high-speed rail technologies available in the world.

(China Daily 02/24/2005 page1)

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