High Speed Rail Coming to Russia
A Chinese-Russian consortium that includes the “world’s largest railways designer” is hoping to win the competition to design Russia’s first high-speed rail line, according to the Shanghai-based Guancha Syndicate.
Citing Russian media sources, Guancha states that the Chinese-Russian consortium submitted an application to design the 770-kilometer, 15-station Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line before the April 22 deadline. European enterprises have also expressed an interest to cooperate with the consortium, the report added.
The US$28.5 billion project — based on current exchange rates — began calling for tenders on March 16 with a reserve price of 20.79 billion rubles (US$409 million). Russian Railways, one of the three largest transport companies in the world, will finance 60% of the ambitious project, while the remaining 40% will be funded by foreign partners.
Though Russian sources did not specify the name of the Chinese enterprise it dubbed the world’s largest railways designer, Guancha claims that the company is the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co, which has reportedly been following the Russian high-speed rail project since 2012. The company is said to have already established good relations with Russian transport companies and has set up a representative office in Moscow. Company brass also visited Russian Railways last June to promote the advantages of cooperating with the Chinese engineering giant.
The Winning Tender will be Announced Soon
Once complete, the high-speed rail network will allow travelers to make their way from Moscow to Kazan in just three and a half hours, a significant reduction from the current 11 hours. The line is scheduled to begin operations in 2018 in time for the FIFA World Cup in Russia and expects to service 10.5 million passengers in its opening year.
Other companies reported to have submitted tenders for the project include the China Investment Corporation, the sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing part of the PRC’s foreign exchange reserves, French multinational company Alstom and a German consortium that includes Siemens and Deutsche Bahn. The winning tender bid will be announced before the end of the month, Russian Railways said.
The official Xinhua news agency recently announced that Beijing plans to invest 300 billion rubles (US$5.2 billion) in the Moscow-Kazan line, which it intends to eventually extend to create a Moscow-Beijing high-speed route. The plans form an integral part of President Xi Jinping’s new Silk Road Economic Belt, an initiative aiming to create a cohesive economic region essentially encompassing countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East and Europe.