China to offer $5.2bn in funding for new Russian high-speed rail

Beijing will fund and perhaps even build Russia’s first high-speed railway, a 770-km line between Moscow and Kazan, Russian media say.

China would invest a total of $5.2bn (300 billion roubles) in the project, the bulk of that ($4.3bn) in the form of 20-year loans from Chinese banks.

The rest $860m would come as an equity contribution from the Chinese company "in charge of the project", reports Russian state-funded news network RT, citing RIA Novosti, which in turn cited "sources familiar with the proposal".

While RT had reported that China was considering the deal, today Russian state-owned media outlet, Russia Behind the Headlines (RBTH), reported that the funding was a "promise".

On 16 April Russia’s state-owned rail company, OJSC Russian Railways, will tender the job of surveying and project planning for the new rail link.

With trains expected to reach speeds of 400kmh, the new line will cut the journey time between the two cities from approximately 13 hours by car to just 3.5 hours.

The Moscow-Kazan rail link was first proposed in 2012. It was scheduled to be finished by 2018 in time for the Fifa World Cup, as Kazan is one of the tournament’s host cities, but failure to secure funding has delayed the scheme.

Chinese capital will be welcome in Moscow because Russian banks are frozen out of western capital markets as a result of EU and US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, and the plummeting oil price has strained Russia’s coffers.

Reports of Chinese funding for the railway first appeared last year.

Image: A proposed high-speed route between Moscow and Kazan (Russian Railways)

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