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New details emerge about high-speed rail link from Moscow to Beijing

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 March 2015

Possible route could see 400km/hour bullet train pass through heart of Siberia and Altai region with stops in major cities.

High-speed train 'Sapsan' on the way from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg. Picture: Russian Railways

Further details of the proposed high-speed railway to link Moscow and Beijing through Siberia in just 33 hours have been unveiled. The 20.5billion rouble project will see a new 400km/hr line running between the capital cities in a venture that would eclipse the iconic Trans-Siberian Railway.

During the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum last week, it was revealed that two potential options for the routing of the track are being considered.

Alexander Misharin, the First Vice-President of Russian Railways, said talks were taking place about going through either Kazakhstan or across the Altai region.

He said: 'There are two ways: through Kazakhstan, and our colleagues there are already planning that, and the second option through Barnaul and Novosibirsk, and through the Altai. The difference in the routes is 290km.'

A third option is to take the Eurasian rail link through Mongolia, allowing it to stop at Krasnoyarsk. But the current focus is on the first part of the route between Moscow and Kazan.

The project was announced back in October 2014 and both sides began to work on ways to bring it to fruition. Later this month Russian authorities will announce a competition to design the first section of the route to Kazan.

The total cost of the ambitious project is 20.5billion roubles, with six billion roubles being allocated this year alone.

When it is eventually completed, the journey time between Moscow and Beijing would be slashed from six days to around 33 hours. Going south of the current Trans-Siberian route, it would also link both cities to the Kazakhstan capital Astana. 

Moscow-Kazan route

The current focus is on the first part of the high-speed route between Moscow and Kazan. Picture: Russian Railways

According to Misharin the track width of the Russian part of high-speed railway will meet national standards of 1520 mm instead of the 1435 mm standard adopted in China and Europe. That will mean passengers having to change trains at the border with China.

Another major hurdle was overcome when both countries came to an agreement about the construction of the new high-speed bullet trains themselves. Mr Misharin said that the Chinese companies will choose a partner in Russia from two of the leading engineering companies, Transmashholding and Ural Locomotives.

A number of people still have misgivings about the project, however, particularly at a time in which Russia is heading towards another recession. 

Alexey Ulyukaev, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, had not wanted to allocate money from National Welfare Fund saying that it was risky, while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed to postpone it until a period when there was more cash available to fund the line.

But, Russia is under slight pressure to complete their side of the track with the Chinese section of the link almost completed already.

Last month officials in Beijing also expressed an interest in building a high-speed line from the manufacturing city of HunChun to Vladivostok. The 250km/h link would cut the current five-hour car journey to just an hour or so by train, and help drive new business and tourism between the two countries.

Located on the border of China, Russia and North Korea, with a population of 250,000, HunChun enjoys a strategic location with the city strong in the development of sea food processing, electronics, bio-pharmacy and textiles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been vocal about increasing ties with China and other Asian countries.

Last year it emerged China is keen on expanding its railways, roads, and shipping routes to give faster connections across Asia to Europe. Officials in Beijing announced a $16.3billion fund to finance construction of a mega trading highway that would revive the centuries-old Silk Road route.

Comments (4)

Thanks for specifying the rail gauge. Given the long Russian history of being aware of the advantages of broad gauge rails- An awareness of reality that no one would ever accuse Canadians of, was 2-2.5 meter wide track even considered on this project? Roman rut gauge or a bit more seems stupid risky too me at these speeds on track beds that become more prone too frost heave as they head east. Seems too me that all needed information on these matters was already on hand in this case. Which would make me suspect its as much of a scam as shorter high speed proposals hereabouts (Montreal too Hog town comes too mind)-These 'great ideas' have private trains on public roman rut rails that the state is too maintain for the private transport companies.
Todd Millions, Eastend Saskatchewan Canada
26/07/2015 20:31
0
0
In China taking high-speed trains is more expensive than flying. There is also a massive security surround rail lines - CCTV cameras and guards. Guards are virtually everywhere. China also gets very little snow, no need for any kind of snow clearing solution.
Mr. Lu, Beijing
07/03/2015 19:15
2
1
There are many advantages to travelling by train! Much more relaxing and ecological; sleeper trains save on hotel bills; railway stations are closer to the center of the cities, saving on transit time and money; pre-boarding times are much less also, so the 7 hours flight mentioned is misleading; more luggage can be taken; on board of a train you can socialize, walk around, go to the dining car, enjoy the spectacular views on the way, or work on your laptop! Vote for trains - vote for this comment!
André De Smet, Beijing, China
06/03/2015 09:47
20
0
Why would anyone want to waste 33 hours on a train when you can fly from Moscow to Beijing in 7 hours? Freight trains can't travel at high speed so this seems like a waste of money when there's a recession coming
petr, Tiksi
05/03/2015 05:25
5
16
1

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