China Railways mulls Belarus’ high-speed rail line

The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has been asked by the government of Belarus to consider building a high-speed rail link across its territory between Russia and Poland.

The request was made by Vladimir Zinovsky, Belarus’ economics minister, who held meetings with CRCC’s top executives while accompanying President Alexander Lukashenko on an official visit to Beijing.

Lukashenko was in Beijing ealier this week for an international forum on China’s grand "One Belt, One Road", which aims to revive the ancient east-west trade networks known collectively as the Silk Road with high-speed railways, bridges, roads, ports, industrial parks, oil pipelines and power grids.

They also discussed CRCC’s possible participation in the construction of a third line for the Minsk metro (pictured) as well as further investment the China-Belarus special economic zone at Great Stone, near Minsk.

Great Stone is currently being built as a 90 sq km cluster of high-tech manufacturing centres, in which China has already invested around $200m.

According to news agency BelTA, CRCC will send a delegation to Belarus in June to discuss the projects with the government of Belarus. Negotiations will be held with interested government agencies and organisations.

Zinovsky added that Belarus was hoping to benefit from Chinese technology and finance "on mutually beneficial terms". He said his country was hoping Chinese firms would consider undertaking projects as investors rather than just contractors "thus bolstering the long-term foundation of Belarus-China cooperation".

China is already operating trains through Belarus as part of its nascent rail business in Europe. In January of this year a 12,000km route was opened through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.

Image: Uruchye station on the Minsk metro (Redline)

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