Japan may be famous for its bullet trains, but if China’s plans for a high-speed railway go forward, people could be zipping over from London to Beijing in under two days.
Just two years after completing its first high-speed link, the Chinese Ministry of Railways is considering plans to build two lines to Europe, one passing through India, Pakistan, the Middle East and terminating in London, while a second would head to Germany via Russia.
There are also plans for a third line extending south from China to connect Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.
Wang Mengshu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, confirmed that work on the Southeast Asia line had already begun.
“We have also already carried out the prospecting and survey work for the European network, and central and eastern European countries are keen for us to start,” he said.
The world’s fastest train, the Harmony Express which has a top speed of nearly 250mph, was unveiled at the end of last year, between the cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou. Wholly Chinese-built, but using technology from Siemens and Kawasaki, the Harmony Express can cover 660 miles, the equivalent of a journey from London to Edinburgh and back, in just three hours.
“From our point of view, the biggest issue is money,” said Mr Wang.
“We will use government money and bank loans, but the railways may also raise financing from the private sector and also from the host countries. We would actually prefer the other countries to pay in natural resources rather than make their own capital investment.”