The Beijing bullet train makes tracks for Europe

While Britain dithers over a 20-year project to lay 500km of high-speed track to connect London to Birmingham and the north of England, China will spend no less than $58 billion this year on high-speed rail projects. Beijing’s ambitions do not stop at its borders.

The World Today
1 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

There are plans to extend the network through Southeast Asia, and to knit together the disparate railway systems of Central Asia and the Middle East to speed its exports to European markets in half the time it takes to go by sea.

As Michael Binyon writes in our cover story, China’s great railway adventure is fraught with difficulty. But as the technical problems are solved one by one, the political obstacles in the way of creating a trans-continental rail route through Iran and perhaps Afghanistan loom ever larger. If it is to work, this is not just an engineering project but a long-term scheme to bring these unstable lands under a trade-based Pax Sinica.

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