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Alstom confident in rail tender
By Zhanglu (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-02 09:09

Alstom, the French energy and transport infrastructure provider, expressed its confidence in the competition to build China's planned US$12 billion, high-speed Beijing-Shanghai railway.

"We could be the preferred partner for the Chinese Government, with our advanced TGV technology and over 30 years' operation experience," said Alstom Chairman and CEO Patrick Kron during his visit to Beijing this week.

The company is capable of providing trains carrying 1,000 passengers with a speed of 350 kilometres per hour, Kron said.

"And we are able to offer the best technology and solutions according to the project's demands, when the bidding is launched," he said.

Meanwhile, the company's rich experience of doing business in China and its willingness to transfer the technology and part of manufacturing to the country will help sharpen its competitive edge in the battle, he added.

The world's eighth high-speed railway, Korea Train eXpress (KTX), which chose Alstom's TGV technology, began official operations yesterday. The inauguration of the KTX further demonstrates the company's advanced technology and excellent project management, Kron said.

However, he said he would not like to be too certain about his company's chances in the competition until the tender is launched, he added.

Earlier this year, China reportedly decided to use the French company's TGV technology in building the 1,300-kilometre-long high-speed railway.

But both the company and China's Ministry of Railway denied the report.

The ministry said any decision will be made through a fair and open international bidding process.

The call for tenders is expected to take place in the second half of the year.

Currently, Alstom and companies from Germany, headed by Siemens, and Japan, headed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, are striving to stake their claims for contracts in the project.

"Alstom has its edges, and so do the other two groups," said Sa Shuli, a railway expert from the Beijing Jiaotong University.

According to him, Germany's ICE technology is stronger in terms of manufacturing. While, Japan's Shinkansen line is advantageous in management and operation.

"A long period of time is still needed for the Chinese Government to decide which technology will be used in this project," Sa said.

He added that the country still has not made a decision between the use of wheel-track technology or maglev technology, though many railway experts prefer the former.

"The Beijing-Shanghai railway project is of great importance for our company, and we are well-prepared for the strong competition," Kron said.

But, it is not the only project for the company, he added.

It is also preparing competitive bids for four metro railway lines in Beijing and five or six lines in Shanghai.

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