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High-speed rail project set for US

Zhong Nan
Updated: Sep 18,2015 7:32 AM     China Daily

A high-speed railway project between Las Vegas and Los Angeles will be built by a joint venture formed by Chinese rail companies and XpressWest Enterprises, a US passenger rail service provider, said a senior official on Sept 17.

Shu Guozeng, deputy head of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, said the 370-kilometer XpressWest high-speed railway project, also named the Southwest Rail Network, will connect Nevada and California with advanced track and rail equipment.

Construction is expected to start as early as September 2016, and the estimated investment amount for the project is $12.7 billion, Shu said at a news conference in Beijing.

The agreement, signed days before President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, is a milestone in China’s efforts to promote its high-speed rail technology in developed countries.

“As China’s first high-speed railway project in the US, the project will be a landmark in overseas investment for the Chinese railway sector and serve as a model of international cooperation,” said Yang Zhongmin, chairman of China Railway International Co.

XpressWest, formerly known as DesertXpress, is a private venture proposal supported by a Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer to build a privately funded high-speed rail passenger train in the western US.

According to the company’s website, the project was approved in 2011 by the US Department of Transportation and other authorities to construct and run the service.

The US company agreed last week to form a joint venture with China Railway International USA Co, a consortium made up of subsidiaries from State-owned enterprises including China Railway Construction Corp, China Railway Corp, China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, China State Construction Engineering Corp and China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co.

Luo Renjian, a researcher at the Beijing-based Institute of Transportation Research of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that in many parts of the US, passenger rail coverage is insufficient and there are financial problems with infrastructure development as well as legislative issues.

“The announcement of this joint venture will enhance the image of both Chinese rail vehicle manufacturers and construction project contractors in the global market, as they competed fiercely with their Japanese rivals in sealing the deal with Indonesia and Thailand over the past eight months,” Luo said.

According to a statement jointly released by China Railway International USA Co and XpressWest on Sept 17, both sides hope to accelerate the launch of the project, which has $100 million in initial capital and will create jobs in different sectors in the US.