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Old December 25th, 2010, 06:57 AM   #261
mgk920
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rheintram View Post
What's all this talk about "Chinese" technology and standards? You do realize that these are European standards and European technology, do you?
About the only technical thing that regular Chinese railroads share with their regular European counterparts is track gauge. Coupling, braking, axle loading, loading gauges, etc, are all different and incompatible. China uses North American-style AAR couplers instead of the European-style 'buffer and chain' coupling and most Chinese locomotives and freight cars will not fit through European tunnels, for example.

Mike

Last edited by mgk920; December 25th, 2010 at 07:02 AM.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 04:09 AM   #262
hmmwv
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rheintram View Post
What's all this talk about "Chinese" technology and standards? You do realize that these are European standards and European technology, do you?
This argument is getting old, you should find something more creative. Chinese conventional rail is very similar to North American standards, it has nothing to do with "European technology." On the other hand, the HSR portion of the line probably will only be rated at 250kph, and we all know the most successful 250kph train is the CRH2 series, and that's Japanese technology.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 12:46 PM   #263
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Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
Yes, and the result of that is a quasi total absence of freight traffic by rail
between the two countries.
And the freight network of Spain/Portugal is relatively small. If freight trains from France must be reloaded anyway, they can be reloaded straight to trucks and driven to destination.

How much rail freight traffic is there between the 1435 mm network of Western Europe and the 1520 mm network of Russian Empire, both of which are sizable?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
A Europe-China link through Pakistan would be essentially freight-oriented,
therefore gauge continuity through the whole journey is an essential success
factor.
Consider that China has alternative links to Europe. The existing link through Russia, which is a functioning but 1520 mm network. And links to Iran - existing 1520 mm link through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and a link under construction between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. And possibly more links.

The rail link through Central Asia has much easier terrain. A Karakorum Railway would be difficult to build and not a very good alternative to Central Asian route. Therefore if it gets built it would be primarily to connect Pakistan with China and not so much to connect China with Iran or Europe.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 10:14 PM   #264
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
How much rail freight traffic is there between the 1435 mm network of Western Europe and the 1520 mm network of Russian Empire, both of which are sizable?
Not much, and as far as I know, only containers, because this is the only
kind of load that can easily be trans-shipped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
Consider that China has alternative links to Europe. The existing link through Russia, which is a functioning but 1520 mm network.
For the time being, this is the only one which is really functionning. But the
capacity is quite limited, because the capacity of the trans-siberian line is
mostly used by russian domestic traffic.

You have also the link through Kazakstan, that allows to by-pass most of
the trans-siberian line congestion, but I don't know how much traffic goes
through there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
And links to Iran - existing 1520 mm link through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and a link under construction between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
As far as I know, this itinerary does not function at all as a Europe-China link
yet. First of all because of the very limited capacity of the Van lake
and Bosphorus crossings, and also because of the administrative nightmare
caused by the border crossing in the central asian states.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
And possibly more links.
Not anyone that I know of...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
The rail link through Central Asia has much easier terrain. A Karakorum Railway would be difficult to build and not a very good alternative to Central Asian route. Therefore if it gets built it would be primarily to connect Pakistan with China and not so much to connect China with Iran or Europe.
If the chinese build it, I suppose they will want to use it at full capacity. This
link to Pakistan will be the easiest way to a link to Europe with no break of
gauge. But on the other hand, yes, there are still many obstacles before this
can become a Europe to China land bridge. Bosphorus and Van lake are one.
Terrorism in Pakistan is another. The current political regime in Iran might be
seen as an obstacle too. Container supercarriers will remain the only viable
solution for many years to come, I'm afraid...
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Old December 28th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #265
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
For the time being, this is the only one which is really functionning. But the
capacity is quite limited, because the capacity of the trans-siberian line is
mostly used by russian domestic traffic.
Meaning that China can choose to pay to upgrade Transsiberian in Russia, or upgrade some other existing route, or build some new.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
You have also the link through Kazakstan, that allows to by-pass most of
the trans-siberian line congestion, but I don't know how much traffic goes
through there.
And Zhetigen-Khorgos railway is now under construction.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
As far as I know, this itinerary does not function at all as a Europe-China link
yet. First of all because of the very limited capacity of the Van lake
and Bosphorus crossings,
Which would equally apply to any route through Pakistan to Iran.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
Not anyone that I know of...
Sorry, I meant any other railways yet to be built.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
If the chinese build it, I suppose they will want to use it at full capacity. This
link to Pakistan will be the easiest way to a link to Europe with no break of
gauge.
I do not see why link to Pakistan would be easier than link to Central Asia.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 01:07 AM   #266
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[QUOTE=chornedsnorkack;69644961I do not see why link to Pakistan would be easier than link to Central Asia.[/QUOTE]

The key is "without break of gauge"... If the Karakorum railway is ever built,
there are good chances that it will be built to chinese standards, i.e. with
standard gauge. From the other side, i.e. from Europe, standard gauge
now arrives in Zahedan, in the extreme east of Iran. Any other route
you might try leaves a much longer gap to fill...
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Old December 29th, 2010, 03:40 AM   #267
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We need to divorce the transcontinental HSL idea from a transcontinental cargo line for a second.

The challenges of a transcontinental HSL are pretty extreme, yes, so we can say that it's unlikely one could be profitably operated all the way through for the foreseeable future (perhaps once jet fuel gets ridiculously expensive). So let us concentrate on freight.

There are essentially three major trans-Asiatic "axes" one can use. The northernmost one is occupied by the Trans-Siberian Railroad. However, this does not preclude the other two from being used.

- The southern one would effectively run from Guangzhou to Istanbul, via Van, Tehran, Kabul, Islamabad, Delhi, Dhaka, and Kunming, with important branches to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

- The central one would effectively run from Beijing to Berlin or Vienna (depending on routing), via the much more rural route Lviv-Kiev-Volgograd-Astrakhan-Aral'sk-Urumqi(-Lanzhou-Xi'an). As this route crosses the steppes (mostly), it would be relatively inexpensive and quick to build, for much the same reason that the Union Pacific built more of the Transcontinental Railroad than the Central Pacific. Also a bonus, the entrance to China runs through the only really passable gap between the Tien Shan and Altai mountains.

Both routings have their downsides, however. Since we have to assume gauge standardization for transshipment, and since the destinations both utilize standard gauge networks, it seems natural to expect the "bridge" should too. The southern routing--especially a variant that would run northeast from Tehran via Samarkand, Tashkent, and Almaty--would offer the shortest length of trackwork needing to be built; however, as a whole, the southern routing is significantly more mountainous and difficult, and Tehran is a "black hole" in the global urban hierarchy...not to mention that the Central Asian nations don't much like one another. Limiting routing to just one would be much preferable.

The central routing, however, would need a much longer rail line to be laid--all the way from the terminus of standard gauge at the Polish or Slovak border (depending on whether the ultimate terminus is Berlin or Vienna), which would include new track laying through the Ukraine--already pretty densely populated--before you get to the no-man's-land steppes of Kazakhstan. It does have fewer land borders, however (PL/SK [EU]-UKR-RUS-KAZ-PRC vs. TUR-IR-AFG-PAK-IND-MYA-PRC), thereby shortening border controls processes.

Finally, how to operate? European rail standards and technology were never developed with long-distance shipment in mind so much as getting cargo from the borders to the major cities. Chain couplers are not rated to take the stresses involved in economical long-distance transportation that Russian and American knuckle couplers both can. China generally follows AAR* standards, so the utilization of Russian coupling solutions would make the train doubly incompatible (on both ends of the network), thereby negating the advantage of using standard gauge. Therefore, utilizing Chinese (AAR) standards and running practices (similar to American running practices) would be feasible.

So, while the capital expense of the physical plant is high, equipment is not. Just buy a few dozen GE ES44C4s, EMD SD70ACes and Series 66s, Alstom Prima IIs, Vossloh Euro 4000s, Voith Maximas, and related-type locomotives, a bunch of double-stack, open and closed hopper cars, gondolas, and boxcars, and there you go. Since it's generally assumed in these matters that the line will serve lineside industry and local mines (as is the case with pretty much any freight operation anywhere), and as there are important mined-and quarried-goods markets that can be tapped (Chinese coal to the West...Kazakh coal in both directions...European coal to the East...as well as other mined and quarried goods), a transcontinental cargo line could, in theory, be generally profitable. The primary difficulty, especially if Western finance is targeted, is the source of initial capital; a secondary difficulty, the procurement of rights-of-way (generally done via easements in the United States--however, the law elsewhere is likely different). Given the lack of any decent road infrastructure through much of this territory, a passenger-train division would have to be in place; however, it would more likely be managed in a more "Intercity" style than as a high-speed line; east of Astrakhan, a "high-speed" market does not generally seem viable.

Just my thoughts.
___________
*Association of American Railroads. These standards dictate coupling, loading gauge, etc., on American railroads and guarantee transshipment throughout the NAFTA area (i.e. the U.S., Canada, and Mexico).
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Old December 29th, 2010, 04:06 AM   #268
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Pretty good analysis, except that once that larger loading gauge equipment used in China (assuming North American loading gauge standards) reaches European standard-gauge trackage, it will not fit under the European electrical catenary and highway overpasses and through the European tunnels and through-truss bridges. European railroad operating companies even have to use specially low-designed flatcars to carry single-stacked containers. Also, yard tracks and passing sidings in Europe are scaled for use by 'buffer and chain' equipment, meaning that they will also have to be significantly lengthened, not to mention having to heavily up-scale the electrical power supply systems to handle the significantly heavier trains. With the far stronger 'AAR' couplings, it is now 'SOP' for freight trains to reach and exceed 3 km in length in both China and North America.



There will have to be some REALLY SERIOUS upgrades to the European standard-gauge lines that such Eurasian transcontinental trains and equipment will use.

Mike
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Old December 29th, 2010, 04:20 AM   #269
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True, but in many cases, these things will happen in Europe anyway. One of the major side effects of Europe's "Schengen-ization" and the TENs is that, where there was previously little market for long-distance rail freight, there will be. Already equipment like the Vossloh Euros is being built to take on heavier loads than previous European freight equipment ever needed to. In the long run, this means the inevitable introduction of a stronger coupling system, at least in the context of freight transportation. A transcontinental would probably need to tie into a major European port (Odessa?) in order to offload double-stacks, for the time being...and of course, properly-equipped European equipment, as long as they can be coupled into the train, can head anywhere on the system. The troubles are more with how to manage the Chinese equipment on the other end.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #270
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I suppose that part of the transloading of double-stacked containers could be to keep the North American-style 'well' cars in the train, but with single-stacked containers. Single-stacked, they'll easily fit through the tightest European tunnel (assuming that the base well-cars' widths are narrow enough).

Also, nothing says that trains have to be run at their maximum rated lengths and weights even with the stronger 'AAR' couplers. Just run them at whatever the maximum ratings are for whatever particular line they are on, splitting them into multiple sections as necessary as they proceed westward and combine them as allowed as they travel east.

Mike
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Old December 29th, 2010, 10:49 AM   #271
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I think its a mistake to describe Europe as having a certain loading guage, it doesn't. The well cars are required in some places to carry a single deep sea container, but even in the UK this is not necessary everywhere and two of the main freight routes can accept full-size containers on flat-bed trailers. The majority of Europe has a much larger loading guage than all of the UK, does anybody have any examples of any major freight routes in Europe that restrict the movement of containerised freight?
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Old December 29th, 2010, 07:32 PM   #272
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
The key is "without break of gauge"... If the Karakorum railway is ever built,
there are good chances that it will be built to chinese standards, i.e. with
standard gauge. From the other side, i.e. from Europe, standard gauge
now arrives in Zahedan, in the extreme east of Iran. Any other route
you might try leaves a much longer gap to fill...
Geometrically the shortest route from the border of Iran or narrow gauge railhead to the border of China or narrow gauge railhead at Kashgar goes through Afghanistan, not Pakistan.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 12:17 AM   #273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
Geometrically the shortest route from the border of Iran or narrow gauge railhead to the border of China or narrow gauge railhead at Kashgar goes through Afghanistan, not Pakistan.
On a pure distance basis you are absolutely right. But

1) if the Karakorum railway is ever built, then the gap to fill from there to
Iran will become shorter than bridging through Afghanistan

2) there is a big difference in terrain difficulty

3) there is a real difference between regauging an already existing line and
building one completely from scratch.

Note also that if the Afghanistan route is ever chosen, the border crossing
from Iran to Herat will be done already, as the Iranians are building it as
we speak.

But in both cases, the most challenging difficulty will not be engineering
but security.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 12:36 AM   #274
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makita09 View Post
I think its a mistake to describe Europe as having a certain loading guage, it doesn't. The well cars are required in some places to carry a single deep sea container, but even in the UK this is not necessary everywhere and two of the main freight routes can accept full-size containers on flat-bed trailers. The majority of Europe has a much larger loading guage than all of the UK, does anybody have any examples of any major freight routes in Europe that restrict the movement of containerised freight?
Indeed, all important trasit routes in Europe follow the B+ loading gauge,
which allows standard containers on straight flat cars. Depressed cars
are only needed for transport of lorries, i.e. when you add the height of
the lorry wheels to the height of the container itself. But double stack is
definitely a no-no.

Are double stack container trains really operating in Russia ? If yes, could
someone post a picture of that ? I always believed that this mode of
operation was totally incompatible with electrified lines.

Personally, I do not believe that there are insurpassable technical difficulties
to build such a project. The administration difficulties and the border controls
seem far more complicated. Railways, and specially international railway
operations, require economic, political, and legal stability. Central asia does
not provide much of that today.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 04:52 AM   #275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
Indeed, all important trasit routes in Europe follow the B+ loading gauge,
which allows standard containers on straight flat cars. Depressed cars
are only needed for transport of lorries, i.e. when you add the height of
the lorry wheels to the height of the container itself. But double stack is
definitely a no-no.

Are double stack container trains really operating in Russia ? If yes, could
someone post a picture of that ? I always believed that this mode of
operation was totally incompatible with electrified lines.

Personally, I do not believe that there are insurpassable technical difficulties
to build such a project. The administration difficulties and the border controls
seem far more complicated. Railways, and specially international railway
operations, require economic, political, and legal stability. Central asia does
not provide much of that today.
Are double-stacked containers in well cars able to fit through the English Channel Tunnel?

Many electrified railroads (mostly passenger lines) in North America that also carry freight traffic will clear standard North American auto racks and double-stacked containers in well cars.

Also, when railroads in North America started handling double-stacked containers, they did have to increase the clearances in some of their tunnels to clear them, but they were already large enough such that the work was mainly done by cutting 'notches' into the top parts of the tunnels. Nearly all overpasses over the railroads were already high enough to clear them (the standard minimum clearance for bridges over railroad railheads on non-electrified lines in North America is 7 meters).

Mike
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Old December 30th, 2010, 04:54 AM   #276
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It is true that there is no "standard" loading gauge in Europe--however, most European loading gauges are tighter than the AAR standard.

I don't know whether double-stacks are operating in Russia, but that's quite beside the point. I've heard that they're operating in China, which is the network we want to connect to, and under wire no less. I think I saw documentary evidence of it once, but I can't remember where...perhaps Greenlion can hook us up?

As to your suggestion, mgk920, that's not a half-bad idea. Well cars are only loaded with a single stack where older tunnels make double-stacking impossible even in the United States. Consists can be shorter in Europe--but the key is to run the mainline transshipments as economically as possible, which means that once you leave the classification yard on the western end, presumably somewhere around Kosice or Krakow, you have a bunch of locos pulling some 150-200 fully-loaded well cars. If interchange service is handled by the transcon, it would be a fairly simple matter to take the top container off a rake of well cars, stick a couple of dinky little cars for knuckle-chain conversion on either end of the rake, and park them on the interchange track for the next operator to pick up. For most other kinds of equipment, like hoppers and boxcars, I'm pretty sure they can squeeze into all but the tightest loading gauges. Even though through-service using chain-coupler cars is inadvisable (again, due to their inability to perform at the train lengths needed for really efficient long-distance service), they can still be used for local service perhaps as far out as Astrakhan, and passenger services, since no passenger train even comes close to knuckles' maximal ratings, can use chains or knuckles through (or at least, until they hit a network unwilling to provide transition cars).

As far as political stability goes, the EU, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and China are all pretty stable. It's down around Transnisitra, the Caucasus, and south of Kazakhstan where all the turmoil is.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 11:04 AM   #277
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
On a pure distance basis you are absolutely right. But

1) if the Karakorum railway is ever built, then the gap to fill from there to
Iran will become shorter than bridging through Afghanistan

2) there is a big difference in terrain difficulty

3) there is a real difference between regauging an already existing line and
building one completely from scratch.
Yes, but all these considerations favour Central Asian route. There is absolutely no railway to be built from scratch at Alashankow/Dostyk, just regauging existing Central Asian route between Dostyk and Sarakhs, and the terrain is much easier than Karakorum to either Pakistan or Afghanistan.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 01:33 PM   #278
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China, Kazakhstan sign high-speed railway cooperation memorandum

http://www.gov.cn/jrzg/2011-02/22/content_1808131.htm

Quote:
新华社北京2月22日电(记者 侯丽军)铁道部副部长卢春房22日表示,截至目前,中国高铁已累计安全运送旅客6亿多人次。

卢春房在此间举行的中国-哈萨克斯坦企业家午餐会上说,自2007年4月高速列车正式开行以来,中国高铁旅客发送量快速增加,2007年至2010年日均发送旅客分别达到23.7万人、34.9万人、49.2万人和79.6万人。

截至2010年底,中国已投入运营新建高铁营业里程达4674公里。其中,时速350公里的有2197公里,这些线路包括北京-天津、武汉-广州、郑州-西安、上海-南京、上海-杭州高铁。

2010年11月15日,世界上一次建成线路里程最长、技术标准最高的高铁——京沪高铁全线铺通,并计划于2011年6月底通车运营。

中国和邻国哈萨克斯坦在高铁建设领域的合作也即将驶入“快车道”。

随同总统纳扎尔巴耶夫访华的哈萨克斯坦铁路国有股份公司总裁马明在午餐会上介绍,哈萨克斯坦铁路国有股份公司和中国铁道部共同开展工作,编制了关于阿斯塔纳-阿拉木图高速铁路建设的合作备忘录。

根据中国铁道第三勘察设计院提供的计算结果,这条连接哈首都阿斯塔纳和哈最大城市阿拉木图的双线铁路总长1050公里,最高时速可达350公里,两城间列车运行时间将压缩到4小时。

马明说,根据中方专家初步测算,通过最大限度地创新和采用高新科技,哈萨克斯坦高铁预计将在2015年完成“交钥匙”工程。
Rough translation:
Quote:
Lu Chunfang, China's Vice Minister of Railways, said on February 22, China's high-speed rail network has transported 600 million passengers safely.

Lu Chunfang said earlier in a luncheon party between China and Kazakhstan's entrepreneurs, since the introduction of China Railway High-speed (CRH) in April 2007, China's high-speed rail passengers have increased rapidly. The average daily passengers between 2007 and 2010 have been 237 thousands, 349 thousands, 492 thousands, and 796 thousands, respectively.

As of late of 2010, China had put 4,674 km of newly built high-speed rail into service, of which, 2,197 km is capable for 350 km/h running. These railways include Beijing–Tianjin, Wuhan–Guangzhou, Zhengzhou–Xi'an, Shanghai–Nanjing and Shanghai–Hangzhou lines.

On November 15, 2010, the tracklaying of the longest single built and the most technologically advanced HSR line, Beijing–Shanghai HSR line, had been completed, and is scheduled to be opened in June 2011.

The cooperation between China and Kazakhstan in high-speed rail construction field will soon be accelerated.

China and Kazakhstan have signed a cooperation memorandum to construct a high-speed railway project from Astara to Almaty inside Kazakhstan.

According to the result from China Railway 3rd Survey and Design Institute, this railway will connect Astara, capital of Kazakhstan and Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan. The railway will be 1050 km long, trains will travel up to 350 km/h, cut the travel time between the two cities in only four hours.

This railway is expected to be completed by 2015.

Last edited by yaohua2000; February 22nd, 2011 at 01:43 PM.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 03:00 PM   #279
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaohua2000 View Post
China, Kazakhstan sign high-speed railway cooperation memorandum

Rough translation:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rough translation:
The cooperation between China and Kazakhstan in high-speed rail construction field will soon be accelerated.

China and Kazakhstan have signed a cooperation memorandum to construct a high-speed railway project from Astara to Almaty inside Kazakhstan.

According to the result from China Railway 3rd Survey and Design Institute, this railway will connect Astara, capital of Kazakhstan and Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan. The railway will be 1050 km long, trains will travel up to 350 km/h, cut the travel time between the two cities in only four hours.

This railway is expected to be completed by 2015.
I believe it is Astana rather than Astara.

Has Kazakhstan picked track gauge?
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 09:17 PM   #280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
I believe it is Astana rather than Astara.

Has Kazakhstan picked track gauge?
Will Astana-Almaty be connected to Urumqi?

I saw a map for China's preffered highspeed Eurasian Network, but the connection from Urumqi to Astana was shorter and didn't pass by Almaty.
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