Update on rail plans in China, ASEAN and across Russia to Europe

This is a update on rail plans in China, ASEAN and across Russia to Europe.

China is pushing ahead to more than double the current high speed rail network by 2030. There are some minor modifications to not fund some projects because of debt concerns.
ASEAN (Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia. Laos) high speed rail projects will be completed over the next ten years.
The frequency and volume of rail freight between Europe and China has increased by eight times over the last three years.
China is making a multi-billion dollar push for more trade and connections with Eastern Europe.

China High Speed rail network will double again by 2030

By 2020, China’s high speed rail network will reach 30,000 kilometers. This will be up from about 22,000 kilometers today.

China’s non-high speed railway network will reach 120,000 kilometers. Double-track will be 60% and electrification rates will 70% of track.

The total length of high-speed lines will be further extended to reach 38,000km by 2025, and 45,000km by 2030.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning body is raising the bar for approving local rail projects amid growing concern over a debt-driven infrastructure boom. Population levels, as well as the economy and fiscal conditions of Chinese cities seeking permission for subway projects will be more closely scrutinized.

Two subway projects in Mongolia were halted.

Beijing was still testing three lines:
* a driverless subway,
* a maglev train
* a new tram will be launched in the city’s western suburbs at the end 2017

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seeks to support the construction of more than 3000 kilometers of rail lines between China and Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Many of the projects have started to take shape. In August 2017, the Thai government approved $5.5 billion for the construction of a 252-kilometer line connecting Bangkok to its northeast border.

Malaysia is making $85 billion transport investment to 2020 and $75 billion is dedicated to railway development. Malaysia has a double tracking project running from north to south.

In April 2017, China and Indonesia agreed to the terms on the building of a high-speed rail link between Jakarta and Indonesia’s fourth largest city, Bandung.

Singapore and Malaysia are expected to announce the tender arrangements for their respective legs of the $15 billion 350 kilometer Kuala Lumpur (KL)-Singapore high-speed railway (HSR) by the end of 2017.

The 350 km-long HSR line will cut off the travel time from Malaysia to Singapore from 4 hours drive to just 90 minutes in a train travel. It will travel at a top speed of 300km/hour. The terminus in Malaysia will be at the site of a former air force base in Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Malaysia, while the one in Singapore will be at Jurong East. Construction is planned to start in 2018 and the HSR is targeted to be up and running by 2026.

Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe rail line since 2011

The city of Duisburg, Germany’s biggest inland port, is on one end of the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe rail line, which opened in 2011 from the Chinese southwest city of Chongqing.

It takes only 13 days for goods to arrive in Duisburg from Chongqing by rail, 30 days less than by sea, and at a fifth of the cost of air freight.

In 2014, Link witnessed the arrival of China-Europe trains at the Duisburg Intermodal Terminal (DIT), together with Chinese leaders. At that time, there were three trains operating to and from Duisburg and Chongqing every week. Today, the number has increased to over 25 per week.

Daniel Thomas, of DIT Duisburg Intermodal Terminal, said that among them, 17 trains are westbound (from China to Europe), while another eight are eastbound.

According to data from consultants GFW Duisburg, the number of Chinese businesses has grown steadily since 2014. More than 100 Chinese companies have so far settled here. At the same time, around 50,000 import and export containers were transported by CRE trains in 2016, almost four times of the amount in 2014.

Construction started China funded Hungary Serbia line

Officials have inaugurated the reconstruction of the railway line between Serbia and Hungary, a project financed mostly by China and its “new Silk Road” initiative to expand commercial ties with Europe, Asia and Africa.

The symbolic launch of the project on Tuesday on the outskirts of the Serbian capital of Belgrade took place on the same day Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was meeting Budapest with the prime ministers of both countries, Serbia’s Ana Brnabic and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Orban has called the upgraded railway, which has been criticized by Hungarian opposition parties as too expensive and more important for China than Hungary, the “flagship project” of China’s efforts to increase its presence in the region.

On Monday, Hungary hosted the “16+1” summit between China and 16 countries from Eastern Europe. 23 agreements are expected to be signed between participants at the summit. China has set aside a $10 billion eastern european fund.

China’s outbound foreign direct investment in CEE remains modest and is concentrated in just a few countries. The headline list of projects completed to date seems to consist of a bridge in Serbia and two roads in Macedonia — and little else. Chinese firms have invested heavily in port infrastructure in Greece, but CEE dreams that China would use its Greek ports as gateways for the economic development of the Balkans have so far failed to materialize.

President Xi outlined five initiatives to further promote cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC).

1. Expand economic and trade scale, and boost trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. China is willing to import more high-quality agricultural products from the CEE countries.

2. Speed up major projects on connectivity, promoting links through land, sea, air and the Internet.

China hopes to see more rail lines be launched by China Railway Express and more direct flights between China and Europe and would like to set up a logistic center in the CEE region.

3. Look at setting up industrial parks in the areas of production capacity, energy, logistics and agriculture.

4. More financial support for the 16+1 cooperation. He announced the establishment of China-CEEC Inter-Bank Association and the second phase of China-CEEC Investment Cooperation Fund in a keynote speech to the seventh China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum held earlier on Monday.

5. More cultural and people-to-people exchanges, enhance cooperation on tourism, and start cooperation between youths.

EU concerned about China reaching out to Eastern Europe

EU diplomats are concerned China-eastern europe connections could be exploited by Beijing to undermine union rules and take advantage of growing east-west tensions in the pact itself.