October 23, 2014 / 6:44 AM / 3 years ago

Chinese trainmakers set to go head to head for California deal

3 Min Read

Train carriages are seen at a CSR rail transit equipment factory in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou November 13, 2011.Tyrone Siu

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's CSR Corp Ltd is keen to supply high-speed trains to California, a company official said, in a move that will pit the trainmaker against domestic rival China CNR Corp Ltd.

China has made no secret of its desire to export its high-speed technology abroad, having built over 12,000 kilometers of track at home in less than a decade. CNR and CSR are China's top locomotive makers, while China Railway Construction Corp Ltd and China Railway Group Ltd build track.

U.S.-based SunGroup USA told Reuters earlier this week that it had teamed up with CNR and its unit Tangshan Railway in a pitch to supply California's $68 billion project with up to 95 trains that can travel as fast as 354 kilometers per hour (221 miles per hour).

"The U.S. is a market that we have been closely watching for many years," said the official from CSR's publicity department, who gave his surname as Xu.

"So when they requested expressions of interest we quickly notified them of ours," he said.

Xu said CSR would be part of a group of companies including national track operator China Railway Corporation and China Railway Construction planning to pay a promotional visit to the United States at the end of this month.

Officials at China Railway Corporation and China Railway Construction were not immediately available to comment. China Railway Corporation is not part of China Railway Group.

Xu said it was possible for them to design a new high-speed train for the contract based on the California high-speed authority's specifications, though it would likely use its CRH380A train, which can travel up to 380 kph, as a base model.

When asked about CNR, Xu said CSR's sales pitch did not involve CNR.

Train manufacturers were 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, the authority said.

Separately on Thursday, CNR said on its website that it had been awarded a contract from Massachusetts to build 284 trains for the country's oldest subway system, the first win for a Chinese railway equipment maker in the United States.

Local U.S. media reports said the contract was worth $566.6 million.

Shares in CSR have risen 26 percent since the start of the year while CNR's have gained 49 percent. The benchmark Hang Seng index declined 0.1 percent.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Ryan Woo

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