China announces $242 billion Moscow-Beijing high-speed rail link

China-Moscow rail earth imageChina will build a high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Moscow, estimated to cost 1.5 trillion yuan ($242 billion), Beijing’s municipal government announced on January 21, Sputniknews reported. The announcement has significant economic and geostrategic implications.

The length of the railway will total 7,000 kilometres. The railway will pass through Kazakhstan, and the journey will take two days, Bloomberg reports. The railway will ease travel between Beijing and Moscow and reduce travel times, the announcement notes.

China is promoting its high-speed rail technology on an international level, adding that the construction of the railway is taking place as Russia’s relations with the US and Europe cool over the Ukraine conflict.

China currently has the world’s longest high-speed rail network with over 11,000 km (6,852 miles) of track. Some Chinese trains can reach operational speeds of 380 km/h (240 mph).

In October, the Russian government signed a memorandum of cooperation on a high-speed railroad with Chinese officials. The purpose of the document is to develop a Moscow-Beijing Eurasian high-speed rail transport corridor, including the priority project of a Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line.

The line is one of many similar long distance rail, land and maritime transport links in the pipeline. The goal is to “reduce dependence on sea and air cargo transport,” according to Xinhua.

America’s “Global War on Terror” has been paralleled with the rebuilding of the Silk Road. Obama has launched his “Asia Pivot” strategy against China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with the minimum aim of strangling their maritime sea routes, on which 80 per cent of their trade currently depends. 

Analyst Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya writes of the significance of the new transportation and trade routes and the Anglo-American “War on Terror” in the Middle East and Ukraine that has been unleashed in parallel. “America wants to disrupt the reemerging Silk Road and its expanding trade network. While Kerry has been busy frightening audiences about the ISIL and its atrocities, the Chinese have been busy sweeping the map by making deals across Asia and the Indian Ocean. This is part of the westward march of the Chinese dragon.”

He adds, “America is being rolled back. It cannot pivot to the Asia-Pacific until matters are settled in the Middle East and Eastern Europe against the Russians, Iranians, Syrians, and their allies.”

“Silk Road of the 21st century”

The train “Yixinou” enroute to Madrid. China and Spain are welcoming expanded trade with a new long-haul rail connection

The train “Yixinou” enroute to Madrid. China and Spain are welcoming expanded trade with a new long-haul rail connection

While the U.S. has been pretending to fight the same terrorist and death squads that it has created, the Chinese and their partners have been busy. In an initiative to build a new silk road linking Asia and Europe though Central Asia, China launched  a cargo train service connecting world’s largest commodity market in Yiwu with the Spanish capital Madrid in November 2014. This is part of the westward march of the Chinese dragon.

The train with 82 containers was the first to travel the entire course of the cargo line, departing on November 18 and arriving on December 9. The 21-day journey marks the largest train journey in the world, longer still than Russia’s famed Trans-Siberian Railway, 6,200 miles (9977 kilometers). It’s part of the New Silk Road, a Chinese project to gain control over transcontinental cargo transportation between Asia and Europe.

The route is much longer than the Trans-Siberian Railway, which at 5,772 miles (9,289 km) was the previous record holder, or surpassing even the combined 12,250 kilometers covered by the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Orient Express routes. It is also the route that crosses the greatest number of countries, going through China, Kazhakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before reaching Spain.

China trains

Click to enlarge

A major advantage of the rail route is speed, the London Guardian reported. “The train took just three weeks to complete a journey that takes up to six weeks by sea. It is also more environmentally friendly than road transport, which would produce 114 tonnes of CO2 to shift the same volume of goods, compared with the 44 tonnes produced by the train – a 62% reduction.”

The convoy, which pulled a gross weight of 1,400 tons, switched locomotives every 500 miles (800 kilometres) and had to deal with track-gauge changes in the border towns of Dostyk (Kazakhstan), Brest (Belarus) and Irún (Spain).

The service is being operated by InterRail Services and DB Schenker Rail and in Spain by DB’s Spanish offshoot, Transfesa.

Low bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure problems prohibit the use of double-stack containers.

At the moment, the running of the rail link is expensive, but authorities say that as trade expands, its costs will fall. Currently, China’s trade with Europe amounts to US$1 billion per day.

Spain and China want to encourage trade relations through rail transport and the new direct railroad line is viewed by both governments as a major international link between Europe and Asia. The Chinese government is spending $40 billion in this bid to gain control of land-based transportation through Asia and Europe—and that’s just the beginning.

Long distance rail cargo splits the difference between airplane and boat delivery in terms of price and speed. According to Miklós Kopp, director of freight at the International Union of Railways and quoted by the Wall Street magazine Fortune, which attacked the new rail link, “sending a 10-ton 40-foot container from Chengdu, China, to Lodz, Poland, takes 12 to 14 days by train, compared to several days by plane (if you include customs and delivery on each end) and some six weeks or longer by boat. The price tag comes to some $40,000 by air, compared to $10,000 by train, and as low as $5,000 by boat, Kopp says.”

According to the Spanish daily El Pais, the business attaché at the Chinese embassy in Madrid, Huang Yazhong, said “the economic openness symbolizes an achievement in trade connectivity between [China] and Spain.”

Huang revealed that the train came loaded with stationery, handicraft and consumer products, and that it would return to China after Christmas loaded with wine, ham and olive oil.

“Right now the European Union is China’s largest trade partner, and Spain is China’s seventh largest trade partner within the EU,” added Huang. “The volume of bilateral trade in 2013 reached $24.9 billion [€20.1 billion].”

china.yiwu mapA test route run at the beginning of last year, which ended in Central Asia, brought in an extra $39 million in trade for the Yiwu region in Zhejiang province.

Yiwu is the world’s largest wholesale hub for small consumer goods and plays host to a vast 4 sq km (1.5 sq mile) market where tens of thousands of traders work daily. In the first half of 2014, international container traffic on the Trans-Siberian rail line rose 8%, to 865,600 teu (20-foot equivalent units).

Madrid Mayor Ana Botella Serrano dubbed the new line the “Silk Road of the 21st century.”

Use of the so-called Eurasian Land Bridge between China and Europe is well established at least as far as Germany, which receives some five trains a week, connecting Chongqing with Duisburg, and Beijing with Hamburg.

Earlier in 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a Silk Road Fund, part of which will be dedicated to developing trade infrastructure across the Asia-Pacific region.

The land-based New Silk Road will start in central China and run southwest from Central Asia to northern Iran before turning west through Iraq, Syria, and Turkey toward Europe. There the Silk Road route goes through Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Germany, where it swings north to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and then south to Italy where it meets the Maritime Silk Road. The Maritime Silk Road will begin in Quanzhou in Fujian province, go through a number of cities before heading south to the Malacca Strait. From Kuala Lumpur, it heads to India and Kenya, then goes north around the Horn of Africa and moves through the Red Sea into the Mediterranean, with a stop in Athens before meeting the land-based Silk Road in Venice. This Xinhua map does not include a stop in Sri Lanka, though they are supposed to be part of the Maritime Silk Road. Map from Xinhuanet.com (Click to nlarge)

The land-based New Silk Road will start in central China and run southwest from Central Asia to northern Iran before turning west through Iraq, Syria, and Turkey toward Europe. There the Silk Road route goes through Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Germany, where it swings north to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and then south to Italy where it meets the Maritime Silk Road.
The Maritime Silk Road will begin in Quanzhou in Fujian province, go through a number of cities before heading south to the Malacca Strait. From Kuala Lumpur, it heads to India and Kenya, then goes north around the Horn of Africa and moves through the Red Sea into the Mediterranean, with a stop in Athens before meeting the land-based Silk Road in Venice. This Xinhua map does not include a stop in Sri Lanka, though they are supposed to be part of the Maritime Silk Road.
Map from Xinhuanet.com (Click to enlarge)


Related: Trade routes: Russia dreams of creating an alternative to Suez


China: A world leader in developing high-speed rail systems

Map showing projected high-speed rail network in China by 2020 and the travel time by rail from Beijing to each of the provincial capitals. (Click to enlarge)

Map showing projected high-speed rail network in China by 2020 and the travel time by rail from Beijing to each of the provincial capitals. (Click to enlarge)

MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) — China has become a world leader in developing high-speed rail systems, Ifeng News reported Wednesday.

“China has become a world leader in high-speed rail system development. China is the future of railroads,” International Union of Railways’ high speed activities Project Director Ignacio Barron said as quoted by the Ifeng News.

High speed rail development is important for China not only in terms of passenger transfer, but also to enable the quick transport of troops and military equipment.

“High speed railways not only assure economic growth, but also enable the rapid transportation of troops, which is a crucial part of [our] military strategy,” said Xiao Yusheng, a researcher with China’s Academy of Military Sciences.

China currently has the world’s longest high-speed rail network with over 11,000 km (6,852 miles) of track. Some Chinese trains can reach operational speeds of 380 km/h (240 mph).

In October, the Russian government signed a memorandum of cooperation on a high-speed railroad with Chinese officials. The purpose of the document is to develop a Moscow-Beijing Eurasian high-speed rail transport corridor, including the priority project of a Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line.


Wikipedia: Technology export

The CRH380AL train, set a record speed of 486.1 km/h (302.0 mph) on Dec. 3, 2010. The record was broken by a new CRH380BL train set on Jan. 9, 2011, which reached 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph) | Photo by Jwjy9597

The CRH380AL train, set a record speed of 486.1 km/h (302.0 mph) on Dec. 3, 2010. The record was broken by a new CRH380BL train set on Jan. 9, 2011, which reached 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph) | Photo by Jwjy9597

Chinese train-makers and rail builders have signed agreements to build HSRs in Turkey, Venezuela and Argentina[320] and are bidding on HSR projects in the United States,Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil (São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro) and Myanmar, and other countries.[41] They are competing directly with the established European and Japanese manufacturers, and sometimes partnering with them. In Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High Speed Rail Project, Alstom partnered with China Railway Construction Corp. to win the contract to build phase I of the Mecca to Medina HSR line, and Siemens has joined CSR to bid on phase II. China is also competing with Japan, Germany, South Korea, Spain, France and Italy to bid for California’s high-speed rail line project, which would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles. In November 2009, the MOR signed preliminary agreements with the state’s high-speed rail authority and General Electric (GE) under which China would license technology, provide financing and furnish up to 20 per cent of the parts with the remaining sourced from American suppliers, and final assembly of the rolling stock in the United States.

In January 2014, the China Railway Construction Corporation completed a 30-km section of the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed railway between Eskişehir and İnönü in western Turkey.

The Guiyang–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway under construction in Yangshuo, Guangxi in August 2013. This line traverses 270 caves and 510 valleys in the karst landscape of southwest China.[91] Bridges and tunnels consist of 83% of this line's total length of 857 km, including 92% in Guizhou Province.[91] Travel time by train between Guizhou and Guangzhou was reduced from 20 hours to 4 hours. Wikipedia

The Guiyang–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway under construction in Yangshuo, Guangxi in August 2013. This line traverses 270 caves and 510 valleys in the karst landscape of southwest China.[91] Bridges and tunnels consist of 83% of this line’s total length of 857 km, including 92% in Guizhou Province.[91] Travel time by train between Guizhou and Guangzhou was reduced from 20 hours to 4 hours. Wikipedia

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4 Comments

Filed under Eurasia

4 responses to “China announces $242 billion Moscow-Beijing high-speed rail link

  1. Pingback: Strategic significance of Pak-China highway | Tony Seed's Weblog

  2. Reblogged this on Today,s Thought and commented:
    As the West destroys the east builds.

  3. Pingback: China home to 60 per cent of world’s high-speed rail | Tony Seed's Weblog

  4. Pingback: Trade routes: Russia dreams of creating an alternative to Suez | Tony Seed's Weblog

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