Chinese Silk Railroad ambitions

Trans-SiberianAmid a global railway revival, Beijing has ambitious plans to connect Asia with Europe. Centuries ago the Orient supplied Europe with the wondrous luxuries it craved, jewels, silk, jade, spices, sending its produce along the dusty caravan route known as the Silk Road. Today, China has become the world’s workshop and Europe has an insatiable appetite for its exports. Most now arrive on giant container ships. But as the ports become clogged and delivery times critical, China is once again looking to old land routes across Asia. But new Silk Road China is planning will be made of steel. At both ends of the route, rail systems are being developed and modernized apace. In Europe, the new high-speed corridors are spreading across the continent, with exporters taking advantage of rebuilt infrastructure across the old Iron Curtain and Brussels promoting Europe’s railway integration. In China, billions of pounds are being spent each year on a new network of 42 high-speed lines criss-crossing country, opening up distant provinces to the wealth of its industrial heartlands. The problem, however, lies in the vast distance between East and West. Where are Asia’s missing links? What is the best direct rail route from Beijing to London? And who will pay for this new Iron Silk Road? A new Trans-Asia integrated freight railway has been on the drawing board for 40 years, brainchild of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia. The commission has identified 4 possible routes: a northern corridor, linking Europe and the Pacific via Germany, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China; a southern corridor from Europe to southeast Asia, via Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Burma and Thailand; a southeast Asian network, consisting mainly of link between Singapore and Kunming; a north-south corridor from Helsinki through Russia to Caspian, then splitting into three routes, to western Iran via Azerbaijan, across Caspian Sea to Iran, and an eastern route via Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. All three would converge on Tehran and go on south to Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Of the four identified by the commission, northern route already exists. It is based largely on the Trans-Siberian rail-way, the world’s longest route, begun in a blaze of tsarist fervour in 1891 and completed in 1916. Electrified, double-tracked, it runs 9,250 kilometres from Moscow to Vladivostok, with a southern single-track branch through Mongolia to Beijing. A strategic line planned to enforce Russian control of the Far East, Trans-Siberian is being promoted by Moscow as an international East-West route. In final days of Communism, it suffered serious degradation, thefts, late trains and uncertain scheduling. But it has recently been upgraded, cut its charges, now carries vast amounts of international freight, especially from Japan to Europe. The Trans-Siberian is capable of trans-porting 100 million tonnes of freight a year, but is almost saturated. An alternative is needed. The North-South routes, giving the former Soviet states of Central Asia an outlet to the sea without being dependent on the Russian network, are of little use in moving freight from China to the West (…..)

Link: http://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/twt/archive/view/189223

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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