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High-speed Railway to Take 5 Years

The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway may not be complete till 2013 and won't serve the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, as expected.

A bidding notice posted on the website of the Ministry of Railways' engineering section says the project will take five years to complete.

Issued by the railway's preparation office on Thursday, the notice says the ministry will take a 78.9 percent stake in the investment vehicle to finance the project, with other investors holding the rest.

The notice, however, neither specifies the total amount of investment nor does it say who the other investors are.

But a source said the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Corp will have a registered capital of 115 billion yuan (US$15.54 billion), and most possibly the "other investors" will be regional governments.

Earlier reports had said the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of China, National Development Bank and Ping An Insurance were the possible strategic investors.

The banking regulator, however, didn't support the commercial banks' bid to invest in the project, the source said. That explains why the ministry is reportedly taking a 78.9 percent stake instead of 35 percent, as was reported earlier.

Trains on the 1,318-km railway can run up to 350 km an hour and cut the travel time between the two cities from 10 to less than five hours.

Domestic companies that want to do civil engineering work and project supervision have to apply to the railway's preparation office before December 17, the notice says.

The open tender is looking for engineering consulting institutes abroad, too. An overseas firm, however, has to join hands with two Chinese companies to bid for it.

(China Daily December 8, 2007)

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