China’s signs deal developing hi-speed rail between Serbia and Hungary

World Today

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang just concluded a trip to Latvia, where the 16+1 bloc signed a deal for a high speed railway line between Belgrade and Budapest. One of China’s largest transport firms will be involved.

CCTV’s Guy Henderson gave us this report.

Amongst the many agreements signed in Latvia on Saturday – this appears to have been at least one of the biggest: Commercial contracts signed – and some financing secured – for a 500 kilometer-long high speed railway to link Belgrade and Budapest.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made special mention of the project during his speech at the 16+1 summit.

“We would like to promote the development of Budapest – Belgrade rail link and China – Europe land-sea express line so as to forge transport arteries running through the CEE region,” Li said.

The current line has an end to end journey time of some 8 hours. The vision is for a passenger and freight route that could cut that to just two and a half hours.

On top of that is a $233.6 million agreement that will see a Chinese firm involved in redeveloping this highway between Serbia and Montengero. No detailed timelines have emerged publicly yet – but Serbian officials seem keen to get started.

Danijela Cabarkapa, Director of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says that Serbia is a small country, but it has its very good position in this area.

The total value of contracts signed between Serbia and China on Saturday came to $800m. Belgrade, like other country delegations here, sees such investments in infrastructure projects as a way to boost its own economic growth and access international markets – including China’s.