Connecting Africa to China
China a frontrunner for UK high-speed train contract China a frontrunner for UK high-speed train contract
The UK is looking to China to complete its long overdue and over budget HS2 high-speed railway from London to the Midlands and other... China a frontrunner for UK high-speed train contract

The UK is looking to China to complete its long overdue and over budget HS2 high-speed railway from London to the Midlands and other northern cities. The possible call for assistance comes two weeks after the British parliament gave the go-ahead for the ambitious project.

The High Speed 2 (HS2) project was budgeted for in 2010, but has hit many stumbling blocks since then. Notably, the Brexit negotiations over the last half-decade. Delays and obstacles resulted in the HS2 engineering project running more than £20 billion over budget.

According to the Financial Times, China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC) contacted Mark Thurston, HS2 chief executive, in January this year to offer their expertise. The Chinese group, which has already built some of London’s railway carriages, has offered to help expedite the completion of the project and recuperate lost time and money.

This follows the news that Chinese telco, Huawei, will play a role in establishing 5G infrastructure in the UK. Former chancellor, George Osborne, and industry experts support the move to utilise CRCC’s resources.

Future Chinese participation would begin in the second phase of the operation in Birmingham. The city is located about halfway along the proposed route, which will head from London to the Midlands, and then on to the large northern cities including Manchester and Leeds.

Chinese participation in the HS2 project would add to the numerous large-scale projects being undertaken between the nations. A £300 million redevelopment of Royal Albert Dock utilised Chinese contractors. Beijing Construction Engineering Group has also assisted with the construction of an £800 million business park in Manchester.

According to a 2019 World Bank Report, China has the capability to develop rail networks at two-thirds of the global average cost. Richard Bullock, an author of the report, lauded the efficacy of Chinese rail construction.

Chinese construction companies have played a significant role in assisting African countries develop large-scale rail projects. The most recent being the Ethiopia-Djibouti rail line which, after completion, cut the typical commute time between the two hubs from three days to just 12 hours.

https://www.ft.com/content/2fd56686-524d-11ea-90ad-25e377c0ee1f

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