In 2009, Alexander Sergeevich Misharin a former governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast region outlined a proposal to create the first Europe to Asia high-speed rail link from Moscow to Kazan. In 2013, President Vladimir Putin agreed with the plans and China inevitably expressed their interest. Negotiations about the high-speed rail line continued for the past few years and now China have announced that they will provide the monetary gap in funding which was holding the project behind. When talks began, it was first hoped that the Eurasian rail line would be commissioned by 2018 in time for Russia's hosting of the FIFA World Cup. Now this deadline looks implausible and a rough completion date is expected to be around 2020, although no official timescale has been decided. This new generation of high-speed rail will be one of the most ambitious developments for Russia’s rail infrastructure and improve the interconnectivity between Europe and Asia. The distance between Moscow and Kazan of 719km (447 miles) will be cut from twelve hours to just three and a half.
The total cost of the project is predicted to exceed $15 billion and China have now agreed that they will support a third of the project's funding including a loan of $6 billion. In addition to this, a German consortium consisting of Siemens, Deutsch Bahn and Deutsch Bank have also offered to contribute €3.5 billion to the infrastructural development.
Under an agreement signed on 27 June by Sinara Group, a Russian investment company and the Chinese state-owned rolling stock manufacturer CRRC corp announced that a batch of 100 high-speed trainsets capable of reaching 400km/h are to be produced at a plant in Russia for the new line. CRRC will be responsible for the design, planning and maintenance for the rolling stock. High-speed trains in China currently operate at speeds ranging from 250 to 300 km/h, although their maximum speed can reach about 350 km/h. This will be a feat for both Chinese and Russian rail infrastructure to offer a commercially viable service for its range of customers. The trains will also use critical automatic gauges adjusting from the Russian railways standard gauge of 1,520mm track to the narrower Chinese/European standard gauge of 1,435mm. The route will connect seven districts via 15 stops, including Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, and will anticipate a ridership of 200 million passengers a year.
Will this rail line improve international relations?
China have already become Russia’s go to for billions in financial investments for their infrastructure, energy and monetary lending. This rail project is news of an increasingly tight relationship between the two nations. Whilst Russia is looking to improve its current infrastructure developments, China continues to seeking new opportunities overseas.
Work will not stop here for China who are extending their ambitions out to Beijing covering a 7000km journey from the Russian capital. The Moscow to Kazan will be a stepping stone in comparison to the infrastructure that they want to create in the future. One of the bigger proposals is an additional line for the New Silk Road project, which will connect China to markets in Europe and the Middle East once again by land, although by rail and not camel!
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