The man in charge of delivering the UK’s controversial high-speed railway, HS2, traveled to Beijing this month to meet China’s biggest state-owned railway builders and operators, with China reported to be interested in providing a "wholesale package" to build it.
HS2 Ltd. chief executive Mark Thurston (HS2 Ltd.)
According to a statement on the website of China’s main planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), HS2 Ltd.’s chief executive Mark Thurston met China Railway Corporation, the country’s high-speed rail network operator, and CRRC, its rolling stock manufacturer, reports South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Also at the meeting were China’s two state-owned railway builders, China Railway Construction Corporation and China Railway Group. Signal developer China Railway Signal and Communication Corporation was also there.
The NDRC did not describe the content of the meeting but, according to Hong Kong-based SCMP, its statement suggested "China’s interest in providing a wholesale package to build" HS2.
HS2 Ltd confirmed the meeting to GCR, saying Thurston visited China, Japan and Hong Kong to meet with companies developing and operating high speed networks in meetings hosted by the British Embassy and Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: "As we develop our plans, and start to build Britain’s new high speed railway, it’s important for us to learn from existing high speed rail networks in other countries.
"Countries such as China and Japan have extensive experience in building thousands of kilometres of high speed rail, and are reaping the economic benefits of their investment. Their knowledge and understanding of core elements such as station design, maintenance and operational processes will help us build the best possible railway for our country."
In 2015 then-UK chancellor George Osborne provoked anger among opponents of HS2 by urging Chinese firms to bid for seven contracts together worth $18bn (£11.8bn) in the first phase of the taxpayer-funded mega scheme.Â
Chinese firms are already competing to run HS2. In 2017 the Department for Transport shortlisted a joint venture of Chinese rail operator Guangshen Railway Company and Hong Kong metro operator MTR for the contract to operate the railway, along with two other joint ventures.Â Â
Top image: High-speed trains wait at in Shanghai-Hongqiao station (ermell/CC BY-SA 3.0)
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