Thursday, July 22, 2010

China to Fund High-Speed Rail in the United States?

It is clear that China is willing to invest good money in high-speed rail and transit projects in its own country and abroad. It must see such transportation as an important solution to 21st century challenges.

While the US has committed several billion dollars for high-speed rail across the nation, it is still far behind China and Europe in this field. And many wonder if private and public entities in the US will even be able to fund the projects President Obama put $8 billion towards earlier this year. One solution, if that is the case, might be to borrow money from China.

“If U.S. companies aren’t able to provide adequate private sector support for construction programs, and if neither the federal government nor states themselves are able to develop infrastructure banks to advance such funding, foreign aid could be a realistic possibility,” Yonah writes.

“This could be seen as a significant let-down for Americans used to thinking that we should be able to fund our infrastructure using our own funds. But the opportunity for expanded global trade could be an excellent opportunity for improvements in the U.S.; there’s no reason to be worried about direct investment from abroad if it makes possible the construction of resources that we couldn’t otherwise build.”

I think this is excellent commentary. It would be great if we could fund high-speed rail projects in the US with US money, but if US companies and government can’t get the job done, getting money for these critical infrastructure projects elsewhere is better than not. High-speed rail is a good public investment and I think it is very important for future economic vitality in the US.

China spents billions on intercontinental HSR

China Development Bank recently agreed to loan the Argentinian government $10 billion for new railway and metro construction.

China has become a major source of funds for countries around the world, acting essentially as an alternative or competitor to the World Bank. It has been increasing its spending in Africa (much more than other countries). And it is looking to fund much of an intercontinental high-speed rail network it and others are planning, “the largest infrastructure project in history.”

China seems to have a direct interest in Argentinian farmland, a good reason for it to help improve transportation to and from this farmland in a very cost-efficient way (through better rail lines).

“Thanks to talks between Presidents Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Hu Jintao, Argentina will receive $4.35 billion to renovate three freight railroad lines, including $1.85 billion to improve conditions on the Belgrano Line, which links the country to Bolivia and is an important link for the nation’s agricultural producers,” Yonah Freemark of the TransportPolitic writes.

But $4 billion for improvement of the Buenos Aires Subway and creation of a 4-corridor Metro in Cordoba don’t seem to offer any direct economic benefit to China. Yonah conjectures that Argentina must have agreed to give China some preferential trade treatment for this.

The Argentinian government has also committed to give a 15% match to the loans they receive.

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More AusRAIL PLUS 2009 exclusive interviews!

Watch our interview with Alan Burns, Partner at Strategic Connections Group, as he talked about new approaches to improving safety at level crossings recommended by recent inquiries and how governments have responded to these recommendations. He also discussed what he believes governments and the rail industry should adopt.


Watch our interview with Ken Bagget, Technical Director - Rail of AECOM as he talked about why underground metro systems are gaining favour within Australia and the key factors in designing a successful underground system. He also described the technical challenges that he has faced in Brisbane that other cities can learn from and how underground networks can integrate with overground networks.


Watch our interview with Ray Grigg, Australian Automobile Association and Vice President of RAASA, as he discussed how road and rail can complement each other in the future. He also gave some examples of this coordination that we can use as best practice.

The Rail Plan: Where? How? Why?

AusRAIL 2010
23rd – 24th November 2010, Perth Convention Exhibition Centre
The Rail Plan: Where? How? Why?

AusRAIL is a central point in the rail industry calendar. The 2010 two-day conference provides a forum for senior executives to discuss policy, investment and the latest technological developments in the rail sector.

The official brochure is due out shortly. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights of the conference.

The popular CEO Forum ensures that all the major rail operators are involved in the debate at AusRAIL. This year the panel will include:

• David Marchant, CEO, ARTC and Chairman, Australasian Railway Association
• Mark Rowsthorn, CEO and MD, Asciano
• Rob Mason, CEO, RailCorp
• Rob Barnett, CEO, V/Line
• Lance Hockridge, CEO, QR National
• Paul Scurrah, CEO, Queensland Rail
• Tony Braxton-Smith, CEO, Great Southern Rail
• Paul Larsen, CEO, WestNet Rail
• John Fullerton, CEO, FreightLink
• Mark Burgess, Acting CEO, PTA WA
• Jim Quinn, CEO, Kiwi Rail
• Andrew Lezala, CEO, Metro Trains Melbourne
• Rod Hooke, Acting CEO, TransAdelaide

You will hear insightful presentations from:
• Jack Sato, Managing Director, Pilbara Infrastructure & Robe River Mining, Rio Tinto. Jack will present on ‘The iron ore railways future growth update.’
• Lance Hockridge, CEO, QR National. Lance will discuss ‘QR National – on track for future?’
• Bruce Griffiths, Rail Suppliers Advocate, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. Bruce will talk about ‘Rail suppliers - challenges ahead for the industry.’
• State Ministerial Address will be given by The Hon Simon O'Brien MLC, Minister for Transport; Disability Services WA

Request the full brochure to be sent to you as soon as it is published.

AusRAIL 2010 will also see the introduction of a Rail Constructors’ Panel. This will give you a fresh and comprehensive insight into major rail infrastructure projects currently underway and looks set to provide lively debate.

Make AusRAIL 2010 work for you. Be sure you take advantage of all it offers:
• Hear first-hand how the Federal Government is helping advance rail prosperity
• Ask your questions at the road and rail discussion panel
• Debate the current and future direction for rail
• Understand current and projected developments in rail
• Hear from Australasia’s rail CEOs
• Get technical updates in your specialist field from national and international experts
• Learn from strategies on managing the challenges of capacity, climate change and culture from international rail CEOs
• Build up your peer network & forge new relationships with top level decision makers – come to the Exhibition Network Drinks and the AusRAIL Gala Dinner
• Take inspiration from cutting edge technological developments
• Visit the exhibition to talk face-to-face with key rail industry suppliers

To register for the conference, click here!