China builds railway to Europe
High-speed plan: Passengers will travel from London to Beijing in two days
Published 09/03/2010 | 05:00
Railway passengers will be able to travel from King's Cross in London to Beijing in just two days on a journey that would be almost as fast as by aeroplane under ambitious new plans from the Chinese.
China is in negotiations to build a high-speed rail network to India and Europe with trains capable of running at more than 322kmh within the next 10 years.
By using the Channel Tunnel, the network would eventually carry passengers from London to Beijing and then to Singapore, according to Wang Mengshu, a senior consultant on China's high-speed railways.
A second project would carry trains through Russia to Germany and into the European railway system, and a third line would connect Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.
Passengers could board a train in London and step off in Beijing, 8160km away as the crow flies, in just two days. Flying time is about 10 hours. They could go on to Singapore, 10,870km away, within three days.
"We are aiming for the trains to run almost as fast as aeroplanes," said Mr Wang. "The best-case scenario is that the three networks will be completed in a decade."
Mr Wang said Beijing was already in negotiations with 17 countries over the rail lines, which would also allow China to transport raw materials more efficiently.
"It was not China that pushed the idea to start with," said Mr Wang. "The other countries came to us, especially India. These countries cannot fully implement the construction of a high-speed rail network and they hoped to draw on our experience and technology."
China is in the middle of a €533bn domestic railway expansion project that aims to build nearly 30,600km of new railways in the next five years, connecting all its major cities with high-speed lines.
The world's fastest train, the Harmony Express, which has a top speed of nearly 400kmh and links the cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou, was unveiled last year. Wholly Chinese-built, but using technology from Siemens and Kawasaki, it can cover 1050km in three hours.
Mr Wang said the route of the three lines had yet to be decided, but that construction for the South-East Asia line had begun in the southern province of Yunnan and that Burma was about to begin building its link.
"We have also already carried out the prospecting and survey work for the European network, and central and eastern European countries are keen for us to start," Mr Wang said. "The northern network will be the third one to start, although China and Russia have already agreed on a high-speed line across Siberia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)