Train ferry bidding
INTERNATIONAL partners are being canvassed to finance the development of a train ferry route across the Bohai Sea. China's Ministry of Railways unveiled proposals in Beijing on April 26, and the Director of the Railway Co-operation Department Wang Chunsheng hopes to name the preferred investors by the end of this month. Over 50 firms from Europe, Japan and North America have expressed interest in the scheme.
First proposed in Chinese Railways' 1997 five-year plan, the 147 km ferry route will link Dalian on the Liaodong peninsula with Yantai City in northern Shandong. It will cut the rail route between northern and eastern China by up to 1000 km.
The project is now to be developed as a BOT concession by the Sinorail Bohai Train Ferry Co Ltd, as a joint venture with the foreign investors. SBTF has been set up as the 'sponsor' by the Ministry of Railways, with the backing of the Dalian City and Shandong provincial governments. Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute has been commissioned to design the 182m long ferries; two will initially be required, and up to six in the longer term.
The total investment is put at 3·4bn yuan, of which the cost of the capital works is valued at 2·4bn. This includes the ferries plus the docks at both terminals and their connections to the existing rail and road networks. SBTF General Manager Chi Baozhang says the expected rate of return for investors will be over 12%. With construction work due to get under way later this year, Chi expects the link to be operational by 2005.
- Construction work has started at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai of the first train ferry to operate the 24 km route from Hai'an to Hainan Island. Able to carry up to 40 freight wagons, 40 cars and 1200 passengers; the vessel is due for delivery in November. CR has an option for a second ferry which is expected to be confirmed next year.