Having built up closer ties with Russia, Beijing is pushing for the construction of a high speed rail line running all the way to Moscow along the Trans-Siberian route.
Chinese media reports claim that China and Russia are mulling the construction of the world’s longest high speed rail line to connect Moscow and Beijing, dramatically reducing overland travel times between the capital cities of the two adjacent superpowers.
According to a report in The Beijing Times, the proposed line would run a distance of more than 7,000 kilometres, over three times the length of the world’s current longest high-speed railway line, which connects Beijing to the Guangdong province of Guangzhou in southern China.
Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the record-breaking line would slash overland travel times along the Trans-Siberian route between Beijing and Moscow by two thirds, reducing it from six days at present to just two.
Direct passenger trains between Beijing and Moscow have been in operation for 60 years now, with two services currently running per week. The route runs from Moscow to Vladivostok along the Trans-Siberian Railway, before turning south and passing through the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator.
The estimated cost for the project is $230 billion, given that the cost of each kilometre of high-speed rail built by the Chinese is $33 million. Wang is confident that the rail could potentially be completed before the end of the decade.
“If the funds are raised smoothly…the line can be completed in five years at the quickest,” he said.
The ball is already rolling for the project, with China Central Television (CCTV) reporting that Premier Li Keqiang signed a memorandum of understanding during a recent visit to Moscow, which expressed an interest on the building of a high-speed rail link between Moscow and Kazan in the Russian Republic of Tartarstan – a key oil producing region.
CCTV said this 803-kilometre line could potentially serve as the first stage of a full Sino-Russian high-speed train route running all the way to Beijing.
Relations between China and Russia have grown closer in the wake of the Putin’s interventions in southern neighbour Ukraine, which have prompted severe recrimination and sanctions from key trading partners in the Eurozone.
Beijing has benefited from this estrangement by executing an immense US$400 billion gas deal with state-owned energy giant Gazprom, which will entail the construction of similarly enormous $20.8 billion pipeline by the Chinese in Russian territory.
China is currently host to the most extensive high-speed railway network in world, built since the turn of the century following the importation of technology from overseas companies including Siemens in Germany, France’s Alstom, and Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy industries.
The country now hopes to further capitalise on the expertise it has amassed over the past decade by exporting high-speed rail technology abroad. China is currently in the process of building rapid rail lines in Turkey and Venezuela.