Rail agreements reached at the Belt & Road Forum
INTERNATIONAL: Railway projects were included in the ‘283 concrete results’ announced by the hosts following the Second Belt & Road Forum for International Co-operation, which was held in Beijing on April 25-27.
The forum was organised by the Chinese government to bring together heads of government and other senior figures to discuss the Belt & Road Initiative, an overall term for its flagship concept of promoting infrastructure and economic development through bilateral deals around the world.
Rail sector agreements concluded at the forum and on the sidelines of the event included:
- a joint statement from China’s National Development & Reform Commission and the European Commission for a study of rail-based integrated transport between China and the EU;
- the national railways of China, Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland and Russia agreed procedures for a joint working group to look at the development of China – Europe container trains;
- China and Russia agreed to pilot financial settlement rules for international rail transport;
- China Customs launched its C-TOP a partnership with train operators designed to expedite the clearance of freight;
- China’s National Development & Reform Commission, Thailand’s Ministry of Transport and the Laos Ministry of Public Works & Transport signed a memorandum of co-operation for the construction of a 1 435 mm gauge line from the Thai border at Nong Khai to the Laotian capital Vientiane, including a new bridge over the River Mekong. Completion is planned for 2023, as part of a China – Thailand standard gauge corridor which is expected to reach Vientiane in 2021. The existing metre-gauge route on the Thai side of the border would also be double-tracked;
- the Malaysian Investment Promotion Agency and China Communications Construction Co signed a memorandum of understanding for the East Coast Rail Link project. Construction had been put on hold by the Malaysian government, but the Prime Minister announced on April 15 that costs had been reduced and works would resume;
- China Railway Group Ltd presented Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport & Communications with its technical feasibility study for a 431 km rail link from Mandalay to the Chinese border at Muse;
- China Investment Corp agreed investments including the Russian part of the cross-border bridge being built across the River Amur;
- Export-Import Bank of China signed loan agreements for rail projects with the Ministry of Finance of Bangladesh, and agreements for railway projects with the Ministry of Transport of Egypt and the Federal Ministry of Finance of Nigeria;
- Belarusian Railway and Export-Import Bank of China signed a €65·7m loan agreement to finance further electrification projects including the Zlobin—Kalinkavicy route which is to be completed before the end of 2020;
- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen asked CRRC to work with concessionaire Royal Group to help develop the national railway network.
In a joint communique issued following the leaders’ round table at the forum, the heads of government said they would ‘continue our efforts towards strengthening multi-modal transportation including inland waterways in landlocked countries, roads, railway networks, air, land and sea ports and pipelines in line with international law and respective domestic laws.’