FRENCH consultancy Systra announced on December 12 that it had won a contract to assist with the construction of the Beijing - Tianjin high speed line.

Working in partnership with the China Academy of Railway Sciences, Systra will review the design of the 117 km route, which is the first line in China to be designed for 300 km/h operation. The consortium will also oversee construction, with Systra in charge of project management through to testing and commissioning.

The line will be carried on 100 km of bridges and viaducts and 17 km of embankment. Civil works were officially launched on July 1 2005 and the route is expected to be operational in time for the Olympic Games in Beijing during August 2008.

Meanwhile, at the southern end of the Beijing - Shanghai corridor, work on a 300 km dedicated passenger railway between Shanghai and Nanjing began in December. Construction is to be completed by 2008 at a cost of 26·8bn yuan.

Chinese Railways is also pushing ahead with electrification of the existing 1453 km main line, which is scheduled for completion in July 2006. Wiring work on the 300 km Kunshan - Nanjing section began on November 10. Following electrification, line speeds will be increased to 200 km/h, cutting the Beijing - Nanjing journey time from 10h to 7h.