The new Silk Route from China will be made of steel.
China is in global negotiations to spread its high-speed railway network to reach 17 nations and possibly India. By 2013, China will have the world’s biggest high-speed railway network and 800 bullet trains, compared to none until 2008.
On Friday, the official Chinese media widely quoted an unnamed railway spokesman saying that Beijing wants to expand this network in a project involving 17 nations.
Wang Mengshu, a member of the State-run Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that Beijing envisages the network reaching Asia and Europe by 2025. Imagine a 350 kmph train journey from Beijing to London.
The plan holds strategic concerns for India, which shares one of the world’s longest disputed borders with China. Production targets for bullet trains made in China with foreign collaborations are being pushed to meet this domestic demand. Wang told the Global Times that India would be China’s ‘top target market’ for Chinese fast-train technology.
He said that the under-construction Southeast Asian line is mapped from Kunming near northeast India’s border with China up to Singapore.
From the ancient Silk Road city of Urumqi, capital of the northwest Xinjiang province bordering parts of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the railroad could connect Kazakhastan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with Germany. Along China’s border with Russia, the city of Heilongjiang could connect to eastern and southern Europe via Russia.
“Many problems such as discrepancies in track gauge, line direction and expense allocations are under discussion with the related countries,” Wang said.
By 2012, China will have 42 high-speed rail lines before India begins to build its first. Beijing has poured billions of yuan into railway infrastructure since the recession worsened in late 2008.
About 33,000 km of rail lines are being built across China.