China gets foothold in Europe with Montenegro rail job

China gained a foothold in Europe for its rail contracting muscle yesterday after a Chinese firm said it had won a rail job in Montenegro.

It is not a major project – the scope of works is to renovate just under 10km of tracks – but state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) called it a "breakthrough" because it paved the way for the company to enter central and eastern European markets, Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, reported.

A subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation, CCECC said it will repair 9.86km of tracks between Kolasin and Kos in the southeastern European country.

The line in question is the Belgrade-Bar railway, which runs from the Serbian capital of Belgrade to the Montenegrin port town of Bar.

The Kolasin-Kos upgrade is one part of a broader modernisation programme on the Belgrade-Bar line in Montenegro financed by European lenders as Montenegro negotiates to join the European Union.

CCECC’s project is funded by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The company did not reveal the value of the contract but the EBRD lists an emergency rehabilitation project on the railway put out to tender this year with an estimated cost of €10m.

The project win will be seen as a victory for China’s strategy to export its rail-building capability around the world.

CCECC was among a consortium of Chinese and Turkish firms that finished a 533-km high-speed railway in Turkey last year.

Last month it was announced that a group of Chinese rail companies would build a high-speed rail line in the US, from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

And in May this year Russian Railways chose a Chinese company as co-contractor in building a 770-km high-speed railway between Moscow and Kazan.

See the Xinhua article here.

Top photograph: The famous Mala Rijeka viaduct on the Belgrade-Bar railway in Montenegro between Kolasin and Podgorica (Hons084/Wikimedia Commons)

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