China To Connect Its High Speed Rail All The Way To Europe

by , 03/15/10

high speed rail, china, china's high speed rail lines, europe, international travel, rail infrastructure, HSR, green transportation, trains, high speed trains, eco design, sustainable designPhoto by Benjamin Lowy

China already has the most advanced and extensive high speed rail line in the world, and soon that network will be connected all the way to Europe and the UK! With initial negotiations and surveys already complete, China is now making plans to connect its high speed rail line through 17 other countries in Asia and Eastern Europe in order to connect to the existing infrastructure in the EU. Additional rail lines will also be built into South East Asia as well as Russia, in what will likely become the largest infrastructure project in history.

high speed rail, china, china's high speed rail lines, europe, international travel, rail infrastructure, HSR, green transportation, trains, high speed trains, eco design, sustainable design

China hopes to complete this massive infrastructure project within 10 years, which will include three major rail lines running at speeds of 320 km/hour. The first will go from King’s Cross Station in London all the way to Beijing (8,100 km as the crow flies) and will take approximately two days. This line will also then extend down to Singapore. A second HSR line will connect into Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia. The last line to be built will connect Germany to Russia, cross Siberia and then back into China. The exact routes have yet to be determined.

Financing and planning for this monstrous project is actually being provided by China, who is already in serious negotiations with 17 countries to develop the project. China states that other countries, like India, came to them first to get the project rolling, because of their experience in designing and building their own HSR network. Financing for the infrastructure will be provided by China and in return the partnering nation will provide natural resources to China. For instance, Burma, which is about to build its link, will exchange lithium (used in batteries), in order for China to build the line.

China benefits because it will be able to transport materials cheaply into manufacturing centers inside its borders and the Eastern Hemisphere benefits by getting a fast, efficient, low carbon transportation system. Considering China has already become the global leader in HSR, their leadership in this new venture could reasonably shift the balance of power in their direction. Also, get ready for a huge influx of HSR station designs in the coming years.

Via CleanTechnica and Edmonton Journal

Rail Maps via The Transport Politic

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  1. lazyreader January 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Before we start praising High-speed rail does not carry cargo.So by sharing the highway with both passenger cars and commercial trucks, interstate highways reduce the costs to both. They offer “No” point to point service, it goes from city center to city center…………click……

  2. shahul January 13, 2011 at 2:58 am

    i hope for the day when i can travel to chennai from kuala lumpur by HST, i have always been a train fan in india, but india although has raised speed , still runs dirty and uncomfortable trains and is very crowded. Dr Mahathir of malaysia first sounded out the trans asian railway connecting singapore to china and then to india, but corruption has led to the malaysian railway development to choose a slower line with a lot of technical problems

  3. lazyreader December 29, 2010 at 8:16 am
  4. lazyreader December 29, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Who forgets China isn’t a capitalist country. Watch these:

  5. gkh77 November 16, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    A couple of points.

    Military use of HSR? The claim that an intercontinental HSR link is somehow going to make China more of a military threat is absurd. First and foremost, China already has a massive traditional railroad network which is more than sufficient in ferrying troops around the country in preparation for a land war. However, this point is moot because the existance of railroads will not *help* a country invade another country more effectively. Let’s look at this logically. Who in their right mind will build a railroad through the territory of a country they intend to invade? I’ve never heard of a division of troops hopping off trains in enemy territory launch an invasion. The whole idea is comical and a disaster waiting to happen. One artillary shell or missile will derail the train and annihilate all the troops within it. For the sake of argument, even if China did manage to capture a large swath of territory in their target country, what’s going to stop that country’s military from destroying the tracks before they retreat? How will the Chinese army make use of the railroad then? That’s textbook military strategy that even a JROTC student would understand.

    What railroads actually do is to provide logistical support once a country is already at war. However, that point is also irrelevent to this discussion because HSR is not the network needed for that purpose. Instead, a traditional and slower speed network is required which as I’ve already mentioned, China already has one. In anycase, all of the previous points are strictly academic because China isn’t going to start a massive war with their neighbors and jeopardize all the progress they’ve made during the past 30 years.

    HSR versus air travel? The advantages of HSR over airplane over short distances is already well documented and proven. It’s no competition. With that said, I’ll restrict my points to travel distances of 1000 miles or more.

    Basically, there are two competing schools of thoughts at work here. On one side we have speed and other other side we have comfort. Personally, I’m more concerned with comfort. For starters, the economic class on your typical HSR train is far more tolerable than their airline equivalent. This is not to mention airline security and check-in across the world is reaching the level of lunacy these days. Now don’t get me wrong, there are and always will be a lot of people that will continue to choose air travel because they want to get to their destination as quickly as possible. However for a lot of casual travelers (such as tourists), HSR is a very viable alternative and it will be utilized extensively.

    I for one hope this HSR project will get completed soon. I would love to be able to take the HSR to destinations such as Vietnam, Thailand or Singapore when I’m in China.

  6. Knut November 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    @Richard: What is it that in any US discussion sooner or later wars/war industries must be included? Is it because the US is on the way to be 100 years on wars around the world with no break? Anyways, I’m far more concerned about another possibly Republican US administration starting another needless war based on lies at Iran or Jemen or where ever else they want to lay their hands on commodities (by claiming to bring democracy to those countries! – nice little joke), than about any developing Asian country developing their countries. But in one point you are right: China’s army is the oldest in the world and for sure one of the toughest. Even the Russian Army adopted The Art of War by Sun Tzu, written 2,500 years in the past, to train their officers. If you had read the book you would know why China’s army is so awesome. It’s because the Chinese Army, other then the US Army, only fight war’s if their is absolutely no other choice. When you have a closer look at the actual economical situation the Chinese took another road than fighting a war. Meanwhile 1/4 of the US is owned by the Chinese. A developing country buy itself a Christmas gift by buying a first world country and not just a random country. No, they bought the selfproclaimed N° 1 of the world. Astonishing clever for some “stupid, war-loving commies”, huh? 😉 And they still have the money to build such an awesome infrastucture project, bringing Europe and Asia even closer together. Not that this would be neccessary as the connections, especially the business connections, are already pretty close. This is not a one way railway project. It goes both directions. Every country on the way will profit from it. Well, not the US and that’s maybe the reason why your arguments are as they are 😉

  7. madmolf November 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    @Richard_Chamberlin :
    Well it took seven long months before someone puts aside political correctness and brings up the chinese agenda. To make it short, as the roman had the “Via Publicae” to project themselves all across their empire, i believe this is some “Via Chinea” being planned. No need to come out of Wespoint to understand this.
    I’m all for the peaceful use, but let’s keep real.
    On the side, your comment made me less lonely (or looney) :°)

  8. Richard_Chamberlin November 5, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Hmmm, the country with the largest standing army in the entire world wants to build a very fast train network throughout Asia, Europe, Britain, Russia, India? Well, what could go wrong with that? Nothing to see here, move along, please…

    And, some of you people have no understanding of the role that the USA has played in keeping your collective behinds safe. Do you think Scandanavia would not have succumbed to a Nazi invasion if it had not been rebuffed elsewhere when it was? Do you understand who is largely or primarily responsible for that salvation? And do you actually not recall the imperialism or otherwise land-grabbing military actions of Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Russia/USSR x 3 or more, Iraq – and I don’t know the details in Africa to elucidate them, but they exist, brutally. People, it’s OK to be liberal, but it’s not OK to be stupid OR ignorant. Even worse, you are intelligent and educated enough to make your beliefs/comments inexcusable.

    None of this means that this rail system might not be a great thing – just don’t pretend that it’s wrong to bring up the military possibilities, and do NOT pretend that the US is the evil monster of the planet and all other countries are blameless. You really deserve more respect than that from yourself.

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  10. Pete Mearns October 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Mankind is great at two things, construction and destruction. This will be one of the greatest constructions feats is history, it will bring peoples together and break down more of those awful barriers which caused two world wars. Bring it on.

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  12. mwtillc July 24, 2010 at 12:28 am

    very nice post.this tells a reader that how a HSR link will be spread all over the world and how it is usefull ..

  13. tnbms16 June 15, 2010 at 8:18 am

    The comments noting that a transcontinental HSR link can never compete with air travel on speed are of course correct, but they miss the point. That’s not why the Chinese are going to build this.

  14. siddharth April 20, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Very ambitious, but wouldn’t this be an easy target for terrorists? How do they plan to keep the whole stretch safe from sabotage or attacks. If even a single stretch of railway tracks is blown up, it would render the whole route useless. HSR connecting the immediate neighborhood of south east asian countries and the land locked central asian countries sounds sensible though.

  15. ko April 13, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Regarding the comments about China “Stealing” HSR technology:

    whomever believes this is badly mis-informed. Numerous Eropean and Japanese companies have been participating in conventional and HSR projects for years exporting to China and building rolling stock in joint-venture factories. These consortiums make much profits for these companies, which include (rolling sock and infrastructure):

    AD trans

    Chinese partners have improved upon their technology and particularly, developed fast-track infrastructure constructiion methods that are world class, and one means by which such large scale trains systems can be realized.

  16. gvmetm April 2, 2010 at 1:02 am

    this is great news. This will definitely raise the standard of living for the countries involved. Didn’t James Hill tried to do this about a 100 years ago when he got intro steamboat business to export cotton to Japan? Unfortunately, the US congress killed it when it passed the Sherman Antitrust Act. I hope to see this complete.


  17. Lee Jakeman March 31, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Lang wrote: “The journey will take about two days? Probably one of those days will be mostly taken up by that section of the journey from the south coast of the UK to St. Pancras.”

    I think you’d better wake up. The high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel has been up and running for years already.

    Where have you been?

  18. Bridgette Meinhold March 31, 2010 at 10:47 am

    In response to Hsu-Liu: Yes I still uphold to China having the most advanced and extensive HSR line in the world. They have the fastest trains and the newest technology, as well as the largest network. Although, I do not know how they compare in numbers of HSR stations. Maybe that’s what you mean.
    “China, for example, has the world’s largest high speed rail network at just over 3,728 miles (6,000 km)… Prior to China’s construction of new high speed rail lines in 2007, Japan had the world’s largest high speed train network at 1,528 mi (2,459 km).” via
    And Wikipedia shows they have 6,552 miles.

  19. Knut March 31, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Bridgette, my guess is that it is because they did extensively in the past. China’s government accept more and more copyrights and they are starting to sue Chinese companies for copying technology and it really was about time. I know a lot stories about European companies bringing their productions to China. After a while all of their production processes where copied and the companies went bankrupt, because a production next door offer the same products for half of the price, because they didn’t need to spend money on research, product development and so on by just stealing patents. This was a very serious problem and is slowly turning into the other direction.

    Concerning HSR I’m with you: Let the project start! It’s a bit like with the limited editions from Ferrari, Porsche or Mercedes AMG. The so called “early adopters” always has to spend more money on it. After it went main street and the technologies find access to mass production the prices come down dramatically. We have seen this with the ICE. In the early stage the tickets were as expensive than a Lufthansa tickets. Nowadays they are still a bit more expensive then regular train tickets, but therefore you are double or triple as fast from A to B. Within Germany only the flights from the North to the South end can compete, for all the other routes the ICE is much faster with a top speed of around 300 km/h (it’s around 180 mph) and because they go from city centre to city centre, while the airports are located outside the cities. The Transrapid (it’s a monorail system) is even faster. It’s cost effective, environmental friendly and over the time the prices will be the same then for the regular trains. The good point on top is that our complete rail system got an overhaul step by step so that also the regular trains got an upgrade. I’m still concerned how it should work at the UK, because only the link (EuroTunnel) between London and Paris is a high speed link. The rest of the rail system is still 1900. Well, over all a very ambitioned project. I like the idea to jump on a train to St. Petersburg and to visit an exhibition at the Eremitage after a 6 to 8 hours train ride or to spend some time on a train with friends to Beijing to have a noodle soup and directly go back. There is a song which says “Let’s go with a Taxi to Paris just for one day”. The remake should be named “Let’s go with the ICE to Beijing just for one day!” 😉

  20. Bridgette Meinhold March 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Why are so many people concerned that China is copying or stealing technology? I say, spend the money on building the system rather than on reinventing the wheel!

  21. Hsu-Liu March 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    “China already has the most advanced and extensive high speed rail line in the world”. Hey Bridgette – ever been to Japan, Germany, or France? Sure, China is catching up, but Japan and Europe have more extensive high-speed rail links than China. Furthermore, the Chinese, the unchallenged world champions in technology espionage and reverse-engineering, have not created anything new, but simply stolen German technology to build their high-speed rail lines. We will continue to need creative countries to invent new technologies that the Chinese can then copy. (e.g. solar power technology)

  22. ko March 28, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    @George Koumal (Reply to)

    George Koumal questions the practicality of this project for long distance travel verses air travel. While I agree that for people in wealthy developed nations and business travelers a 2 day trip to London won’t be very attractive, this rail system will have the following bebifits:

    1. A cheaper alternative to air for lower income people in Asia and Eastern Europe
    2. Rail is the main long distance transportation for Asians and we are already acustomed to long rail trips for up to 1-3 days in our own countries, a HSR trip of the same duration is acceptable to us.
    3. With intermediste stops along the way, it can service people traveling to many destinations.
    4. It will increase travel between Europe and Asia with economic benifits for both. As income in Asia rise, people are traveling more and this makes it affordable for more people.
    5. Rail it the most efficient and environmentally benigh trasportation, let’s not forget that!

    While such a system would compete with Air, I don’t think it will actually threaten it since the volume of traffic between Eurpoe and Asia is inclreasing, and this will simply provide anther alternative.

    I also think this willbe attractive for tourists since they can visit more places with stopovers and rail is more confortable and convenient than air since it normally terminates in city centers. My most memorable trip was from Beijing to Moscow by Trans-Siberian Express, an excellent experience even if you don’t get off the train (I did).


  23. markr March 27, 2010 at 1:25 am

    There will be less aviation as the oil supplies dwindle. Solar and wind power are great but they don’t run jet planes. Of course, it takes a lot of fossil fuels to make the steel and concrete needed for high speed rail, too, so whatever train service gets built before the oil and natural gas and coal decline is whatever will be built. The US chose to invest in highways and missiles instead of trains, and now we will see the consequences of that decision.

  24. George Koumal March 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    While high speed railroad is undoubtedly the anwer for moving frequent travelers between high population density centers withing some 600 miles apart at maximum, to use this tehnology for movement of people continets apart makes little sense. Such railroad cannot compete with airlines, moving people 5 times faster than the fastest high speed train can.
    Chllange of the future is not faster movement of people but it is development of resources to accomodate the aspiration and hopes of 6.5 billion people calling Mother Eart their homes. Ordinary work class realrod is the key to such development. The magic of roll of the steel wheel over the streel rail is still the most efficient and most environmentally safe system of frreight transport ovel long land distances. This transport is also something the railroad has no competition!. If one would have the choice to spent two days in another “ladies and gentlemen please fasten yout seat belts” as compared to 10 hours torture on the plane, plane would win.
    Instead be preocupied with speed to move people over land,(relic of early 20th century) why not to build working railroad connecting all three continents via tunnel under the Bering Strait ? Development of resources in the arctic would serve human interest much better that high speed railroad from China to London. It is not the magic to connect places continents apart, the intercontinental railroad via Bering Strait would make a reality, but rather the magic of what such railroad would do for all the places in between!

    Kind Regards, George Koumal
    IBSTRG and Bering Strait Peace Forum

  25. Joakim S. March 21, 2010 at 9:02 am

    These plans are amazing! I hope Swedish authorities will be inspired to improve our 150 yr old railway system…

  26. ko March 19, 2010 at 1:14 am

    @bpg131313 raises a good question about how to build ecologically sound rail across fragile terrain.

    Answer: China already faced and solved that problem building the Qinghai–Tibet Railway which crosses fragile and unstable permafrost, developing a method to build elevated rail on a structure that isolates the ground from the heat and vibration of the train while allowing wildlife free passage under the rails.

    Unfortunately most of the good papers on this require purchase, but these two links about the rail and road methods are a start:

    and …

    @ davidwayneosedach

    Questions price. Generally, HSR is cheaper than air by at least 50% depending on the location/route, but for a reasonable idea, an air ticket from Shanghai to Beijing is about RMB2,000 while a HSR will be about RMB800.

    Price on Germany’s ICE are similarly cost-effective.

    Why? Fuel costs, ground support costs, take-off/landing fees, etc, etc, etc.

    On trips of moderate length, the gate to gate time of rail from city center to city centre is often les that the same using aire given the fact most airports are located outside of city centers and local travel combined with check-in/check-out times and DELAYS make the process rather time consuming.

    Of course, for long distance travel, air will certianly be faster.

  27. davidwayneosedach March 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    How much for a first class ticket London to Bejing? The cost would have to be much greater than air. Much greater. How long would it take? Going through Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan?

  28. Sam Holloway March 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Thank you for injecting bigotry into the discussion, railroadbaron, though other thinly veiled references to the Rising Yellow Menace were merely skirting the edges of what you dove into directly. Listen, if we could set aside our Euro-American sense of entitlement and historical myopia for a moment, perhaps we could focus on the positive potential inherent in this plan. Madmolf, you acknowledge that Europe and the US have an ongoing record of exploiting Africa. Perhaps if we could focus on positive engagement and constructive investment in the lands we’ve had a habit of brutally exploiting– instead of finding new ways to exploit that don’t impinge upon our “politically correct sense of guilt”– we could set aside our paranoia and focus on the positives here.

    China is a serious and growing power, but their focus is primarily economic. As Knut astutely observes, it is the US which is projecting itself militarily (and bankrupting itself in the process). If there is any cause for concern, it should be that this project does not bring with it a fresh new wave of labor, human rights, and environmental abuses in the more vulnerable and autocratic nations it traverses. That is something the democratic European countries could insist on in lieu of settling for that politically correct guilt.

  29. railroadbaron March 18, 2010 at 5:35 am

    well, sounds like the good old days of railroad barons are back– this time it’s not land or your first born, just your limited natural resources. 1 billion strong and growing, you say tiger, i say locusts. . . hasta la gaia.

  30. madmolf March 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

    @Knut. I agre with you war mongering isn’t the answer. I live in Europe, from over here, the american policy is usually looked upon with a pinch of salt at the very least. They seem to bully around the world any country that they want to take something from.
    But i believe China has got an agenda, and being European i think it wil include taking a bigger foot in our countries. They are already replacing the US and European countries in exploiting Africa, without any post-colonial politically correct sense of guilt.
    This said, I don’t fear China more than any other superpower, but i believe we should understand all the possibilities given by a transcontinental HSR network, including military projection.
    They have an ancient history, and have the money to regain their lost might, and they have a very strong national pride.

  31. Knut March 17, 2010 at 5:35 am

    @adwolf .. interesting comment. Maybe you didn’t realized it, but the US is the only country which likes to fight wars across the world. The rest of the world only want to be connected to do some business and to keep in touch. I’m not afraid of China, because China already is a very important business partner to Europe and will become even more important during the coming years, so that I’m happy that they are acting more and more responsible within their role as a super power. What about the US? War mongering isn’t the answer! 😉

  32. manny March 17, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Rail link to Europe and UK…….Awesome!

  33. madmolf March 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I agree with commenters who foresee the cargo part of the story. But, there could also be a military projection strategy in place. If you are a superpower you want to establish and control you own network of routes and be able to project your might as quick as lightning (Kung Fu Fighter style).

    The romans created the “viae publicae” all around and across their empire, so what lies ahead a “viae chinae” ?

  34. Lang March 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    The journey will take about two days? Probably one of those days will be mostly taken up by that section of the journey from the south coast of the UK to St. Pancras.

  35. Sam Holloway March 16, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Apparently China is looking beyond the short-term financial gain. Unlike the U.S. gov’t, the Chinese don’t necessarily cater so cravenly to the neoliberals and the deficit scolds. They also don’t have to worry about little things like labor or environmental concerns, though that will change locally depending upon the partner nations.

    This would never work in the current U.S. political and economic environment, but it could work in the more infrastructure-friendly and less bottom-line-addicted European nations. I give the Chinese gov’t credit for attempting to implement such an expansive vision. At any rate, even if the deal falls completely flat, I won’t be laughing at the Chinese while the infrastructure in my own nation is rapidly crumbling from willful neglect.

  36. Bridgette Meinhold March 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    TR-D, I wondered about the cargo part too for HSR. I can only assume, that the intention is not to use the HS trains, but to have the infrastructure in place to run cargo trains. Because you’re right, HS trains might not be as economical. But maybe they will be in the coming years?

  37. paul l March 16, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I will put this one in the seeing is believing department. Likely to be completed after numerous oil pipelines from the middle east to Europe. Anyone ever heard or the Berlin to Baghdad railroad Hitler was going to build? Brittan didn’t like the competition to their shipping empire. The same thought pattern applies here.

  38. Knut March 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

    At first I hated the idea of HSR at China, because it’s German technology from Siemens they just copied. Meanwhile they bought the licenses for it (ICE and Transrapid) and Siemens is involved during the start-up. Now I welcome the idea of being connected across the continents by HSR. An outstanding project! Good luck with it.

  39. TR-D March 16, 2010 at 6:17 am

    laughing my fucking ass off. high speed rail to europe? even though the chinese have a reputation for engineering, they are never, ever going to be able to pull this off. Besides, the transsiberian railway is already built? Why would a HSR through india, pakistan, iran, turkey, the middle east be competitive? Even right now, london is not rail-connected to Istanbul, let alone via HSR. Besides, HSR is good for passengers, but there is not much extra value in HSR for cargo.

  40. bpg131313 March 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I wish them well. It’s the most ambitious undertaking, and one that will be facing challenges all along the way. The dunes in China, the not-so-permafrost in Siberia, and logistics to get everything where it needs to be. That said, we, here in the US, have the Chinese to thank for the cross-country rail lines that we have – though they did it just one notch above slave labor.

  41. hadlock March 15, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    China just left the rest of the world in the dust when it comes to rail tech. Expect this to drop the global cost of HSR by about half. Obama’s HSR will probably be built in China, not America.

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