China is ready to invest 400 billion rubles (USD 10.7 billion) in the construction of a high-speed railway linking Moscow with Kazan, a top Russian rail official said Tuesday, as the Kremlin looks to further strengthen its economic ties with Beijing to offset the effects of its standoff with the West over Ukraine.
China Development Bank, which in April confirmed plans to invest $5 billion in Russia’s Far East, is among the parties ready to stump up the funds for the 800-kilometer-long line, said Alexander Misharin, first deputy president of state-owned monopoly Russian Railways, according to Prime news agency.
Trains with a top speed of 400 kilometers per hour will service the line, cutting the journey time from about 14 hours on regular trains to just 3 1/2 hours. It was slated to be built by 2018 — in time for the football World Cup, for which Kazan is one of the host cities. However, delays with design tenders and the diversion of state funds for the development of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March, have hampered progress.
The overall cost of the project, including the purchase of high-speed trains and the modernization of railway stations, has been set at 1 trillion rubles ($29 billion). If Russia secures the 400 billion rubles, it will not need to raise extra funds in the form of loans or private investments, Misharin said.
Though the question of financing is not yet settled, Chinese partners are already involved in the project. A Chinese-Russian working group is currently considering Chinese proposals for the project’s financial model, as well as technological solutions.