Picture: Russian Railways
By World News Report Bureau
Call it accidental convergence of interest of what you may… it was a chance offer from Chinese investors that helped revive Russia’s first Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line project lying standstill for close to three years for want of funds.
The Russian Railways had proposed the idea in 2012 but the project failed to get off the drawing board.
In its new avatar the project now is going to be part of the Moscow-Beijing high-speed route. This is the first time Russia is designing trains capable of operating at speed of 200-400 km/h.
High-speed train from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg. Picture: Russian Railways
Chinese investors are pumping in a total of $5.2 billion in the project. A majority of this investment, $4.3 billion is in the form of 20-year loan from Chinese banks, and the rest $860 million is equity participation by a Chinese company.
Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese Railways Corporation, and the Ministry of Transport and Russian Railways signed a memorandum for construction of the Moscow-Beijing route in October 2014
The Chinese investors were interested in the Moscow-Kazan high-speed section – if it could be extended as a part of the Moscow-Beijing high-speed route. The investors included CREC Construction and Engineering Company, as well as one of China’s largest manufacturers of railway trains, China CNR Corporation Limited.
The high speed train would be able to reach a speed of 400 kilometers per hour. It will cover the distance from Moscow to Kazan, the capital of Republic of Tatarstan, the eighth most populous city at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia in just three and a half hours instead of present 14 hours. Accordingly it would reduce the travel time between Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s third largest city, to just ninety minutes from the more than 10 and a half hours at present.
Russia’s interest in the project is to develop to improve transport connectivity among its mid-size cities and thus better mobility to its people.
The Chinese interest is to expand its rail connections and lay thousands of miles of new track in the years to come. At present the world’s fastest passenger train– the Shanghai Maglev Train operates in China and can reach a speed of over 430 kilometers per hour.
The Tran-Siberian railway connects Beijing and other Chinese cities with Russia and Europe. The Chinese are more interested in a train ride from Moscow to Beijing via Kazakhstan.
Accordingly the Moscow-Kazan project isn’t just an investment for China, but a means to improve communication and trade with Russia and Europe.
Russian Railways is also considering a Trans-Eurasian high-speed transport corridor to link eastern Russia with the United states, via Alaska.
The 770-km Moscow-Kazan section would ultimately be a part of the Moscow-Beijing Eurasian Transport Corridor. An additional track could be built through Kazakhstan or through Altai.