China to pitch high-speed trains to California

Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:56pm EDT
 
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By Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - State-backed China CNR Corporation is making a pitch to sell its high-speed trains to California, signaling China's growing export ambitions for such technology after building the world's longest network in just seven years.

It marks the first concrete attempt by China to sell high-speed locomotives abroad and establish itself as a credible rival to sector leaders such as Germany's Siemens, Canada's Bombardier and Japan's Kawasaki.

CNR, its unit Tangshan Railway and U.S.-based SunGroup USA are submitting an expression of interest to California's $68 billion high-speed rail project for a contract to supply up to 95 trains that can travel as fast as 354 kilometers per hour (221 miles per hour), SunGroup told Reuters.

"We believe that high-speed rail is something that China does very well, and it's a product that we can export across the world," SunGroup spokesman Jonathan Sun said in a phone interview, adding that SunGroup, CNR and Tangshan Railway had been working together for four years.

Manufacturers are expected to send in expressions of interest by Oct. 22 to the California High Speed Railway Authority, which will later issue formal requests for proposals. About a dozen firms from places such as Japan and Spain are expected to compete, it said.

California has been candid about its desire for Chinese investment in the 800-mile-long (1,287 kilometers) line from Los Angeles to San Francisco; U.S. media reports said governor Jerry Brown met Chinese rail officials in April last year, including those from Tangshan Railway, to discuss the project.

No estimates for the contract's value have been published, but in its 2014 business plan the California High Speed Railway Authority estimated each trainset would cost $45 million, based on a purchase of 70 vehicles.

"We haven't officially gone out to bid yet. This is us saying to the industry that we need trainsets. They have to meet these standards. We're asking, 'Are you interested in learning more, and do you think you could do this for us?'” said Lisa Marie Alley, deputy director of public affairs at the High-Speed Rail Authority.   Continued...

 
A high-speed train travelling to Guangzhou is seen running on Yongdinghe Bridge in Beijing, December 26, 2012. REUTERS/China Daily