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China's presses on with interest in UK’s high speed rail project

Infra News - Published on Thu, 18 Apr 2019

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SCMP reported that China is pressing ahead with its interest in the United Kingdom’s controversial HS2 project, the largest high speed rail project in Europe, despite growing concerns over its cost and economic benefits. Members of China’s government and biggest state-owned railway companies met with HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston in Beijing earlier this month, signalling China’s interest in the GBP 55.7 billion project, which will be funded by British taxpayers. China is bidding for construction contracts. According to a brief statement on the website of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese side was represented by China Railway Corporation, the country’s high-speed rail network operator and CRRC, the country’s rolling stock manufacturer. Also in attendance were China Railway Construction Corporation and China Railway Group, China’s two state-owned railway builders. China Railway Signal and Communication Corporation, the high-speed railway signal developer, also sent a delegate for the meeting.

While the statement did not provide details about the content of the discussions, it suggested China’s interest in providing a wholesale package to build the UK’s second high-speed railway line. The high speed rail project has two phases. The first covers the route between London and the West Midlands, while the second phases runs from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester.

The UK government has said that HS2 will help to create more jobs and better connect eight of the UK’s 10 largest cities. However, there have been mounting questions from the public about HS2’s actual costs and its value for money.
In January this year former HS2 chairman Terry Morgan told the House of Lords economic affairs select committee that “everybody has their own guesstimate” and “nobody knows, actually, the number”.

Chris Stokes, a former director at British Rail, told the same committee that there was a “close to zero” chance of HS2 being built within the GBP 56 billion budget “unless there are changes of scope” and that “the suggestion that HS2 will free up commuting capacity Leeds and Manchester simply isn’t true”.

China and the UK agreed in 2017 to promote China’s participation in the second phase of the HS2, including on railway development planning, laws and regulations, railway construction, design, equipment supply, technical service cooperation and third-party market cooperation.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Thu, 18 Apr 2019
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