BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Chinese consortium led by China Railway Corp will, in 2018, participate in bidding for a high-speed railroad linking Singapore and Malaysia. This marks another step in China's ambitious strategy to export its high-speed railway technologies to South-east Asia.
The media office of the Beijing-headquartered China Railway Rolling Stock confirmed this move but declined to give any specific details as the matter is still in the works.
The consortium - consisting of eight companies, including CRRC, China Railway Construction Corporation, China Railway Signal and Communication, and Export-Import Bank of China - covers the design, construction, telecommunication, financing, operating and maintenance sectors for the high-speed rail network.
A joint tender for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project was issued by the Malaysian and Singaporean government-owned utilities MyHSR Corp and SG HSR on Dec 20.
According to a joint statement released by the two companies, the potential bidder would be responsible for the design, construction, financing, operating and maintenance of rolling stock and railway systems for the double-track line with a designed speed of 350kmh.
A researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission's Institute of Comprehensive Transportation, Feng Hao, said: "Judging (by) these companies' size and resources, they will form the largest group to build a high-speed rail network outside China if they win the bid next year."
The tender is open to all companies, regardless of their location. A tender briefing will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 23, and proposals need to be submitted by June 29.
Submissions will be evaluated based on technical merit, commercial robustness, financial sustainability and price. The preferred bidder will be selected by the end of next year.
The governments of Malaysia and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement late last year to embark on the project.
According to the agreement, the high-speed rail link is expected to become operational by Dec 31, 2026, and will cut travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to just 1½ hours, down from about fours hours by car.
Beijing Jiaotong University's professor of rail transportation Du Chunbu said: "The move indicates that China's state-owned enterprises have stopped cut-throat competition to hurt (one another)."
Prof Du added: "Instead, they have started to form a consortium to better compete with rivals from Japan, South Korea, Germany and Canada by bringing their specialties into play."
The construction of the first section of the China-Thailand high-speed railway started last week in the north-eastern Thai province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
The 253km first phase of the railway links Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima province. China is responsible for designing the railway, supervision of construction and manufacturing of trains and signal systems, among others.
Once completed, the railway, with a maximum speed of 250kmh, will be the first high-speed railway of Thailand.