China also seeks in­volve­ment with UK high-speed rail

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

China is “very in­ter­ested” in help­ing to shape the fu­ture of the UK’s high-speed rail net­work.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to RAIL, Ma Hui, Min­is­ter of the Em­bassy of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in the UK, said he “sees po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties for co-op­er­a­tion in the rail sec­tor be­tween the two coun­tries”.

“We’re not lim­ited by our imag­i­na­tion - we need to ex­plore all ideas of co-op­er­a­tion and this ab­so­lutely in­cludes run­ning high-speed trains in the UK. China has the largest amount of high-speed rail net­works and the UK is build­ing sev­eral lines, so Chi­nese com­pa­nies are very much in­ter­ested in play­ing a part in it,” he said.

At present, Hong-Kong-based MTR jointly op­er­ates the South West­ern Rail­way fran­chise in part­ner­ship with FirstGroup. It is also set to run the El­iz­a­beth Line (Cross­rail) on be­half of Trans­port for Lon­don, once the new route opens later this year.

Hui said Chi­nese com­pa­nies are “still ne­go­ti­at­ing” to join the fi­nal list of part­ners in­volved in the con­struc­tion and run­ning of the HS2 rail link be­tween Lon­don and the North.

“We are still keen to join the ef­forts, and we can play to each other’s ad­van­tages,” he said.

“We are open to all ideas. The Chi­nese rail­way com­pa­nies have of­fices in the UK and they are mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion. They are try­ing their best to win a share and to take part in these projects, but it is a com­pli­cated busi­ness. We need to keep the chan­nels of di­a­logue open and try to work to each other’s ad­van­tages.”

Hui ex­plained there are cul­tural dif­fer­ences be­tween the two coun­tries that can make work­ing to­gether dif­fi­cult, but said the UK and China can learn from each other.

“We need to try to get to know each other and learn about each other’s ex­pe­ri­ences, so that we can know how to help each other. Cer­tain con­di­tions are dif­fer­ent - China has a large pop­u­la­tion and the UK’s is much smaller. Also, the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process here is lengthy - your high-speed trains be­tween Lon­don and Birmingham will not be ready un­til 2027, but in China we do things much more quickly, as it takes us four or five years,” he con­cluded.

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