Ride an electric train in Pakistan

The new silk road: from China to Europe by rail

China continues to expand its high-speed train network. With a network length of over 11,000 kilometers, the country already has the world's longest rail network for high-speed trains. By the end of 2015, there should be more than 16,000 kilometers of high-speed line.

But China is not only planning high-speed routes within the country. Lines to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar have long been planned or already under construction.

But this does not seem to be enough for the Middle Kingdom. In December 2010, China invited Bulgaria to work with Turkey on a high-speed line from China to Europe. The route should be designed for 320 kilometers per hour. A total of three different routes are being discussed.

This massive construction project is to be financed by China. However, China is likely to expect something in return. Myanmar, for example, supplies lithium to China in exchange for the financing and construction of the railway line from China to the internationally isolated country.

Possible routes China - Central Asia - Europe

An alternative route through the Middle East, Pakistan and India is also being considered for the rail link to Europe. The route would be in India's interest above all, which, for political reasons, might not be too willing to work with China.

Use of the Trans-Siberian Railway

Alternatively, a route connection between Beijing - Moscow - Berlin is under discussion, on which the Trans-Siberian Railway already operates in parts. However, the Trans-Siberian railway line and the connection between East Kazakhstan and Northwest China, the Djungarian Gate, are already well utilized, so that capacity can only be increased with difficulty. Furthermore, an extension of the broad-gauge network to Vienna is currently under discussion.

The Beijing - Moscow - Berlin / Vienna route through the Kazakh steppe

The middle route would lead from Beijing to Berlin or Vienna - with the inclusion or exclusion of the Russian capital Moscow. A possible route would be as follows: Lviv - Kiev - Volgograd - Astrakhan - Aral’sk - Ürümqi - Lanzhou - Xi’an - Zhengzhou - Beijing. This route would mostly lead through flat steppe, so it would be easy and quick to build. Access to China would be easy through the Tien Shan and Altai Mountains. In December 2014, the expansion of the Chinese high-speed rail network to Ürümqi was opened.

In October 2014, Russian and Chinese representatives signed an agreement to develop a high-speed link between Beijing and Moscow. The over 7,000 kilometers long high-speed route between the two capitals is expected to cost around 150 billion US dollars. The maximum line speed should be projected to 400 km / h and allow a travel time of around 33 hours. A train journey between Beijing and Moscow currently takes at least six days.