CEREMONIES on January 18 marked the start of work on the 1 318 km Beijing - Shanghai high speed line. Construction is expected to take five years, with work proceeding from 40 sites.

The Ministry of Railways had announced the results of bidding for the civil works on January 3: China Railway Construction Corp and China Railway Group won the lion's share of the work, each taking two major contracts. The two remaining lots were won by Sinohydro Corp and China Communications Construction Co.

The project is being overseen by Beijing - Shanghai High Speed Railway Co which was set up at the end of December. Investors in Bshsrc include China Railway Investment Corp, the National Council for Social Security Fund, Shanghai Shentie Investment Co and Ping An Asset Management Co.

The line will serve the major cities of Tianjin, Jinan, Nanjing and Suzhou, with 21 stations in all. Work has been underway on the 117 km Beijing - Tianjin section since July 2005 as this part of the line will be needed for the Olympic Games in August 2008. Major remodelling of the rail network in Nanjing is envisaged, and a start was made on a new station at Nanjing South on January 9 - the station is expected to become a major interchange handling 44 million passengers a year.

In Shanghai the line will terminate at Hong Qiao in the western sector of the city, where there will be access to Hong Qiao Airport and interchange with metro lines 2 and 10.

The line has a design speed of 350 km/h, permitting an end-to-end journey time of less than 5 h. This compares with a current fastest timing of 9 h 59 min for a non-stop day train in one direction only.

Nearly 80% of the 160bn yuan cost is being funded by the ministry. The total includes compensation of more than 23bn yuan to be paid by local governments to residents who need to be relocated.

Tenders for up to 200 high speed trainsets for Beijing - Shanghai services are expected to be called later this year.

In the meantime, the first of three CRH3 trainsets has arrived in China from the Siemens factory in Krefeld. Based on the company's Velaro product platform, the 300 km/h wide-bodied trainset is the first of 60 eight-car trains ordered from Siemens and its Chinese partner, Tangshan Locomotive & Rolling Stock Works, which is assembling 57 sets. The CRH3 is expected to enter service on the Beijing - Tianjin line later this year.

Sifang Locomotive Works unveiled its first 300 km/h train in December. The eight-car set is a derivative of East Japan Railway's E2-1000 for the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen. Sifang has already supplied 60 similar CRH2 trainsets for 250 km/h services, in co-operation with a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki (RG 3.07 p124).

Last month work began on a 502 km line from Xiamen to Shantou and Shenzhen. Due for completion in 2011, the line is being built for 200 km/h running. Construction of a 281 km high speed line from Beijing West to Shijiazhuang is expected to start in mid-2008.

  • The first of three Siemens CRH3 trainsets has arrived in China from Germany. Part of the Velaro product line, they will enter service on the Beijing – Tianjin line this year