The planned high-speed rail line linking Moscow and Beijing will pass through either Kazakhstan or Russia's Altai territory.
"There are two options for the 7,700-km route: one, through Kazakhstan (the Chinese colleagues are designing everything already); and two, through Barnaul and Novosibirsk, through Altai. Their lengths differ by just 290 kilometers. In China - 1,200 km - construction is being completed this year, so one-half of this rail line is already built," Russian Railways (RZD) First Vice President Alexander Misharin said in Moscow on Wednesday at a round table devoted to the development of high-speed rail in Russia.
As for the rail gauge along the entire route, Misharin said: "Although the issue is being raised, there is currently no answer."
"In the first stage, apparently, there will be a transfer transportation node. But in general this is an engineering task. As soon as the need arises, rolling stock with adjustable wheel gauge will appear, because that will be a lot cheaper than rebuilding the entire infrastructure network," Misharin said.
RZD and the Russian Transport Ministry reached agreement with China Railway Corporation and China's National Development and Reform Commission on possible construction of the Moscow-Beijing rail line last October. The Chinese side agreed to consider participation in the project within a "public-private partnership," as an investor, creditor and supplier of technology, with rolling stock and spare parts localized to Russia, in a joint venture among other options.
The planned Moscow-Kazan line will be incorporated into the Moscow-Beijing line. Trains on the 770-km Moscow-Kazan line, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2018, will reach a top speed of 400 km/hr, reducing travel time to no more than 3.5 hours.
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