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Huge rail plans make China hot ticket

China is making ambitious tracks to expand the country’s rail network by more than 40,000 km during the next decade.

It is one of the more striking numbers as far as global construction opportunities go. China plans to build 42,000 km of additional rail track by 2020.

And foreign contractors are being urged to get in on the act.

Some 17,000km of railway lines will be built before the end of 2010 – including 7,000km of passenger dedicated lines (PDLs) as well as upgrading work on 8,000km for double track laying and 15,000km to be electrified. Total investment on rail for the five years ending at the end of 2010 is set to top 1,250 billion RMB (£113bn).

Long-term goals

Its goals for the next decade are even more ambitious. The Chinese Ministry of Rail (MOR) has pledged to swell the network from 78,000km today to 120,000km by the end of the next decade. And it has a history and an appetite to partner with UK companies to help do it.

The history of freight and passenger rail travel in China over the past ten years is of sustained growth, and the Chinese government is investing heavily to keep up. For UK contractors seeking to expand their overseas operations, the opportunities are clear.

China has earmarked particularly track, bridge, tunnel, culvert, traction, power sully, signalling and IT, as well as safety inspection and safety control technology.

British companies are already established in the sector. Balfour Beatty recently secured a contract for 1,000km high speed line from Guangzhou to Wuhan, while Mott MacDonald has been contracted for project supervision for the first section of Central China’s Zhengzhou-Xi’an Passenger line and is involved in a joint venture to upgrade two of Beijing’s metro lines.

Stronger ties

But the MOR is keen for stronger ties with UK firms. It is set to send two high level delegations to Downing Street on July 13-19 to learn from UK companies and seek partnerships for additional works.

UK Trade and Investment, which is co-sponsoring the trade missions, is set to publish a Chinese railways sector report to coincide with the arrival of the delegates. It sets out a series of opportunities in the country in the years to 2020 and urges UK companies to pitch for work.

Opportunities for UK contractors

Metro/LRT planning in 15 cities in China

No.CityYearLinesLength (km)Investment (10b RMB)
Total  621733.16625.459

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