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Five year plan

Chinese offer to build ‘cheaper and quicker’ HS2

HS2 train

HS2: not due to arrive until 2040

China’s state-owned railway builder is offering to the HS2 high-speed rail line in Britain at a fraction of the cost and in just five years.

The offer from China follows the decision by Boris Johnson to approve the scheme despite an official review warning the final cost could be double original estimates.

Even though work has already begun the final stretch of the line is not due to be completed until 2040.

However, Building magazine reported that the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) had written to HS2 Ltd’s chief executive last month, saying it could build the line by the middle of the decade, for a much reduced price tag.

HS2 route (Department of Transport)

While a cheaper and quicker scheme will appeal to the government, involving the Chinese could provoke further controversy after telecoms firm Huawei was allowed access to the 5G network despite ‘spying’ warnings from Donald Trump.

In the case of HS2 the issue would be around property rights, protected landscapes, workers’ rights and sourcing equipment and materials.

British firms hoping to be included in the supply chain may be concerned that they will be overlooked by a Chinese contractor, although British Steel is in talks about being acquired by a Chinese company.

The CRCC letter, also been seen by the Financial Times, states: “We are certain that we can offer a cost that is significantly lower than the projections we have seen.

“The advantages are too great, in our opinion, too great to dismiss on the basis that there are obstacles to overcome.

“You will find that the Chinese way is to seek solutions, not linger on obstacles and difficulties.”

CRCC has transformed China’s transport system, building most of the country’s 15,500-mile high-speed network.

UPDATE 16 Feb: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government was willing to listen to other ideas but there had been no official discussions involving his department.



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