China’s bid to sell bullet rail technology losing steam: Report

By: | Published: April 3, 2017 7:34 PM

China's ambitious strategy to export its high-speed railway technology, including to India, was facing various obstacles as its aim of boosting connectivity with nations across continents was difficult to achieve mainly due to high costs.

Sifang, one of China’s biggest locomotive and rolling stock manufacturers, had planned to build a bullet train for a high-speed rail project in Mexico. (Reuters)

China’s ambitious strategy to export its high-speed railway technology, including to India, was facing various obstacles as its aim of boosting connectivity with nations across continents was difficult to achieve mainly due to high costs, according to a media report. Construction of high-speed railways abroad is part of Beijing’s massive ‘One Belt, One Road’ (silk road) initiative to increase trade and infrastructure links with countries from Asia to Africa, but most of the current rail projects have been stalled.

“China’s ambitious strategy to export its high-speed railway technology is facing various obstacles, making its aim of boosting connectivity with nations across continents difficult to achieve,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said, citing industry insiders.

“There is no case of China exporting high-speed rail that can be described as very successful. The situation is very undesirable,” Dou Xin, a spokeswoman for China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Qingdao Sifang, was quoted as saying.

Sifang, one of China’s biggest locomotive and rolling stock manufacturers, had planned to build a bullet train for a high-speed rail project in Mexico. The plan was aborted after Mexico cancelled the 210-km rail link in 2015 in budget cuts. “The biggest obstacle for countries that have signed deals with China is the lack of financial strength. High-speed railways and bullet trains are unimaginable expensive,” said Dou.

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“Even though Chinese technology is highly cost effective when compared to other countries, it’s still too costly for many,” he said.
China had built a 124,000 km rail network as of the end of last year, featuring the world’s largest high-speed rail network covering more than 22,000 km, according to a state-run Xinhua news agency report last month.

The amount of high-speed railways in operation will be increased to 30,000 km by 2020, connecting more than 80 per cent of the nation’s big cities. China which is transforming its economy from exports of low end manufacturing to high technology to halt the slowdown of its economy which slid to 6.9 per cent last year. The government has reduced to the growth target to 6.5 per cent.

High speed railway which Beijing mastered mixing German and Japanese technologies figured high on China’s high-tech exports.
Till recently, China has pressured India to opt for its bullet train technology and opted to conduct feasibility study to the longest line of Chennai and New Delhi. China hoped that a breakthrough in bullet train export to India will open up works. However, Japan got the first train contract to build a high speed rail line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

With bilateral relations at a low ebb amid differences over the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Beijing’s blockade of India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and New Delhi’s efforts to get JeM leader Masood Azhar banned by the UN, Chinese officials are not very hopeful about any breakthrough for its bullet train exports to India.

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