China will build a 7,000-kilometer (4,350-mile) high-speed rail link from Beijing to Moscow, at a cost of 1.5 trillion yuan ($242 billion), Beijing’s city government said on the social networking site Weibo.
The rail line seeks to facilitate travel across Europe and Asia, Beijing’s municipal government said Jan. 21 in a post on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. The journey from Beijing to Moscow would take “two days” on a route passing through Kazakhstan, the post said.
The proposed rail line comes as Russia’s economy struggles to recover from the fall in the price of crude oil and as relations with the U.S. and Europe deteriorate over the Ukraine conflict, and as China pushes to market its high-speed rail technology internationally.
The rail line was mooted in November, after Russia and China last year agreed on the largest natural-gas supply deal in history. Alexander Misharin, a first vice-president at state-owned OAO Russian Railways, said in a Nov. 18 interview that the plan would cost $60 billion to reach Russia’s border, and would cut the Beijing-Moscow journey from five days to 30 hours.
In May, after more than a decade of talks, natural-gas exporter OAO Gazprom reached a $400 billion deal with China to build a pipeline and start supplies. Misharin, in the November comments, compared the new transport network to the Suez Canal “in terms of scale and significance.”
Those comments came a month after a delegation to Moscow led by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed accords that included high-speed rail cooperation, a three-year 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) local-currency swap deal and a double-taxation treaty.
The link to Beijing would take eight to 10 years to build, Misharin said in November.