Key year for decisions on super fast rail link between Moscow and Beijing
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 Kazakhstan capital Astana.
Amid talks on the full length of the route, the Russian government is pressing ahead with the Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail line, the first link in the eventual route connecting the two capital cities.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said 6 billion roubles, some $102 million, has been allocated for design and surveying work.
'It's important for everyone to know how much progress we have had in this area,' he said last month. This is a very important project with a clear multiplicative effect.'
He stressed: 'Overall, it will become part of the high-speed transportation corridor we plan to create from Moscow to Astana and Beijing.... The first part is for us vital. It could cut travel time between Moscow and Kazan by 75%,' he said.
The current strains in relations between the West and Russia are likely to be a boon for China's accomplished high speed rail builders. China Railway High-speed (CRH), a subsidiary of the state-controlled China Railway (CR), could play the key role in the project alongside Russian companies.
French company Alstom could suffer due to the current dispute between Moscow and Paris over Mistral warships, according to reports.
Key questions on both the Moscow-Kazan route, and the longer link to Beijing, relate to investment. Possible sources include Russia's National Wealth Fund and Chinese investors. ■