Chinese companies hope to win California’s high-speed train contract

Global Business

The U.S. State of California is hoping to build it’s first high-speed rail system with some international help from Chinese companies. CCTV America’s Mark Niu reported this story from Mountain View.

Chinese companies hope to win California's high-speed train contract

The United States has yet to build a high-speed rail system, but it hopes to-starting in California and with some help from abroad. Chinese companies are now competing to provide that help. CCTV America’s Mark Niu reported this story.

The ambitious $68 billion project will transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours traveling at speeds of more than 199 miles an hour, or 320 kilometers an hour, for more than 746 miles, or 1,200 kilometers. There are also plans to extend the system further south to San Diego and further north to Sacramento.

Jeff Morales, the CEO of California’s High Speed Rail Authority says bidding for the contract will open sometime next year, with hopes of choosing a winner by the end of next 2015.

Morales said the U.S. which once led the way in rail development 150 years ago, but it hasn’t kept up with the rest of the world.

“We’ve fallen behind. There are two dozen countries who either have or are building hi-speed rail systems. We are now on the forefront in the United States, we intend to catch up and be at the leading edge. Because we do not have high-speed rail in the U.S., we are certainly looking overseas for expertise and the experience of having operated the systems,” Morales said.

So far, 10 companies from countries including Japan, Germany, and South Korea have expressed interest in supplying trains for the project. One condition is that the company must manufacture them in the United States. Two Chinese companies are also on the list of contenders, including China’s top locomotive maker, CSR.

Domestic Chinese rival CNR and its unit Tangshan Railway are also joining forces with American company, SunGroup USA, to compete for the deal.

“We’ve had different interactions with the companies and we’ve met with the train manufacturers, as well as construction companies associated with high speed rail in China. We think there are great opportunities to learn from what they have been able to accomplish, and eventually put that experience to work here in the U.S.,” Morales said.

In July 2011, one of the worst high-speed rail accidents in history occurred in Wenzhou, China, killing 40 people. Extensive investigations and safety reviews were conducted and China continues to win contracts around the world. It is now in talks to build or sell high speed trains in at least 20 countries.