BASIS POINT-China's Suzhou Rail seeks 20 bln yuan loan for light-rail line

Suzhou Rail Transit Co Ltd is seeking a Rmb20bn (US$3.14bn) loan for the construction of light-rail lines, sources said.

The deal, led by China Development Bank Suzhou, has a tenor of seven years and offers a margin of 100% of the PBOC rate, according to a source.

Major Chinese banks have been invited to a bank meeting this week, when more details on the loan will be introduced.

Proceeds are for the construction of extended sections of Lines 2 and 4 on the light-rail network, sources said.

According to local media, Suzhou Rail Transit obtained an Rmb8.4bn loan from a 10-bank group in 2009 for light-rail Line 2 and a Rmb6.2bn loan from a seven-bank group in 2008 for light-rail Line 1.

The Suzhou branches of Agricultural Bank of China , Bank of China , China Development Bank and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China were mandated lead arrangers on the 2009 loan, while Bank of Communications , China Construction Bank , China Merchants Bank , China Minsheng Bank , China Everbright Bank and Huaxia Bank joined as lenders.

CDB Suzhou led the 2008 loan, which was joined by AgBank, BOC Jiangsu, BOC Suzhou, Bocomm, China Everbright Bank and ICBC, local media reported.

Suzhou Rail Transit is directly controlled by the Suzhou municipal government. It manages the construction, investment and development of rail transit projects in the city in Jiangsu province.




Iran-China Railroad – Tajikistan’s Latest Mega-Distraction? 

With work essentially stopped at Rahmon’s marquee ‘project of the century’, including thousands of layoffs of construction workers who might be wishing they had gone to Russia this summer, time has arrived for Tajikistan to come up with a replacement nation-saving mega project. Perhaps this is why we are again hearing talk of a plan to build a railroad linking the country with China and Iran.

The line would run from Iran’s existing spur to Herat to southern Tajikistan, assumedly near the US-funded bridge at Nizhny Pyanzh, then proceed to Yavan, through the Rasht Valley to Kyrgyzstan’s Alai Valley, cross the Irkeshtam Pass and descend to Kashgar, in southwestern Chinese Xingjiang.

The project has been kicking around for years, though somehow has never gotten off the ground. Perhaps that somehow was the likely multi-billion dollar tab that no one is committed to picking up. Or the technical complications of building the line at high altitudes and through narrow river valleys. Or the fact that China, Iran, and the Central Asian republics all use different rail gauges. Or that existing lines already link Iran and Central Asia. And that Afghanistan is a war zone. And occasionally, so is the Rasht Valley.

All that aside, Iran and Tajikistan have started talking up the project again of late. Kyrgyz officials expressed no interest in the project as recently as June, and rightly so, it would only pass through a remote and sparsely populated valley. Then this month, Iran’s ambassador in Bishkek recently announced that Iran would pay for the stretch through Kyrgyzstan, which was swayed by the no-risk proposition. While any charity is generous, this stretch is short and almost entirely flat.  The Tajik line would also not connect to Kyrgyzstan’s own nation-saving mega project, a rail line that would connect China and Uzbekistan across the Torugart Pass, north of Irkeshtam across an impenetrable range.

Kyrgyzstan has bandied that rail project around since at least the mid-90s, though Atambayev and Babanov have all but staked the country’s economic future on the idea. The two repeatedly insisted after repeated results-free trips to Beijing that ‘every issue related to the project is solved, except financing’. When talking about two threads of iron to cost Kyrgyzstan about 40% of a year’s GDP, financing is really the issue, is it not? Thus, Kyrgyzstan is left with two bad options: rails for minerals, or rails for tolls. Either Chinese enterprises would get privileged access to mineral concessions, or would be permitted to run the railroad to recoup the costs. Both options bring serious political risks for Bishkek, as I have argued in the past.

Tajikistan would have to offer China a similar deal. Like when Dushanbe unceremoniously gave away 1,100 sq km of mountainous territory to China in 2011, or when leases agricultural land to Chinese farming enterprises, Dushanbe will have to test its people’s patience yet again. Iran may be willing to pay for Kyrgyzstan to play nice, but the initial ascent from China and the descent through the Rasht Valley will be by far the most costly aspects of the project. Iranian media already acknowledges this, and provides some decidedly low-ball figures. The Rogun stoppage shows just how far Tajikistan can go with this projects without massive foreign backing, which is, not far. Heavily-sanctioned Iran can’t possibly have the cash lying around for a huge up-front outlay.

Even if China could be enticed to cover the cost, the whole plan would run up against the US policy of ‘No Silk Roads Lead to Persia’. Despite the possibility that this particular railroad might be more valuable to Afghanistan than alternatives options to expand Uzbek or Turkmen spurs into Afghan territory, it seems quite likely that the US will veto any progress while US troops are on the ground. And after they are gone, will the investment be protected?

Iran is supposedly still in the feasibility study phase – a process that in this part of the world means “study just how great an idea this is”. Rail investment best addresses the need to move heavy, often low-value-added goods, in large bulk, and without a tight time schedule. Marble in Balkh? Oil in Faryab? Afghanistan’s now-legendary Angyak copper deposit would be far removed from the line. Realistic studies of the rail lines viability would have to measure the actual probability of success of such nascent ventures. They would also have to measure them against the next-best alternative, not against the status quo. In this case, Iran and China have an existing rail link through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Cutting across Afghanistan and Tajikistan would save some time. But containerized trucks can already do the same thing, and without the need to switch wheels three times. Without greatly increased demand for freight services between the countries involved, such a rail line may not make economic sense. But as Rogun shows, nation-saving mega projects are bigger than economics. They’re about national mobilization, national pride, and, perhaps, national distraction.








China to form high-speed railway network by 2015

BEIJING, July 25 (Xinhua) -- China will have established a high-speed railway network covering almost all its cities with a population of more than 500,000 by 2015, according to a latest official program.

The State Council, or China's cabinet, late Tuesday issued a plan for building a comprehensive transportation network during the 2011-2015 period.

According to the plan, China should basically complete the construction of a high-speed railway network with a total operating length of more than 40,000 kilometers by the end of 2015.

Analysts expect China's railway equipment manufacturing industry will see rapid growth.

"We forecast the country's railway construction will accelerate and the investment in the construction will also speed up in the next few years," according to Sinolink Securities Co., a Chinese brokerage company.

China will initially establish a comprehensive transportation network with a total length of 4.9 million kilometers, mainly including railways, roads and inland waterways, according to the plan.



Rail network to be finished by 2015

By 2015, China will have a high-speed railway network that will encompass almost all its cities with a population of more than 500,000, the State Council said on Tuesday.

The State Council issued a plan for building a comprehensive transportation network.

The plan says China should complete the construction of a high-speed railway network with a total operating length of more than 40,000 km by the end of 2015.

China will initially establish a comprehensive transportation network with a total length of 4.9 million km, mainly including railways, roads and inland waterways, said the plan.

Beijing appoints acting mayor

Wang Anshun was appointed vice-mayor and acting mayor of Beijing on Wednesday.

The appointment was announced at the 34th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th Beijing Municipal People's Congress, the local legislative body.

The meeting also accepted the resignation of Guo Jinlong from the mayor post.

Previously, Guo was elected the capital's Party chief on July 3.

Wang, born in December 1957, is a native of Central China's Henan province.

He has served as deputy Party chief of Beijing since March 2007.


Fishing fleet departs for Sanya

A 30-boat fishing fleet casting nets in the South China Sea left Meiji Reef on Wednesday evening for Sanya Port in the southernmost province of Hainan, bringing a 13-day voyage to an end.

The fleet, including a 3,000-ton lead boat, left Sanya Port on July 12 and arrived at Yongshu Reef, Zhubi Reef and Meiji Reef of Nansha Islands.

The fleet is 615 nautical miles (1,139 kilometers) from Sanya and is expected to arrive at the city within four days.


2 dead, 5 missing in boat accident

Two people died and five were missing after a boat capsized in a reservoir in East China's Jiangxi province on early Wednesday, the local government said.

The victims were all technical workers from an electric engineering company in Wuyuan county. They were en route to fix irrigation equipment for a local village, the county government said in a news release.

It said the boat capsized at around 7 am in Gongchanzhuyi Reservoir in Wuyuan's Zhenzhushan township. Five people on board were rescued, and rescuers were searching for the five still missing.


Expressway pileup kills 8

Eight people were confirmed dead and five others were injured in an expressway pileup involving a heavy truck and several cars on Tuesday in Shanxi province, police said on Wednesday.

The truck rear-ended the cars that had pulled over near the Renyi Toll Station in Lingshi county on a pivotal expressway linking Beijing and the southwestern city of Kunming, at around 5 pm.

The truck driver had apparently failed to notice a traffic ban on the Lingshi section of the expressway after a tanker caught fire around 4:10 pm, an officer with the county's traffic police said.

Seven people were found dead at the scene. Another one died later at a hospital.

The five injured were in stable condition, the provincial public security department said in a statement on Wednesday morning.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.


Airplane lands after smoke seen

A passenger airplane made an emergency landing at around 5 pm on Wednesday at an airport near East China's city of Hangzhou after fuselage smoke was detected, and no injuries were reported, local authorities said.

The plane was traveling from Daqing, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, to Guangzhou in Guangdong province, via Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

Smoke was detected soon after the plane took off from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. The plane returned to the airport and made an emergency landing, airport staff said.

An investigation is under way.  







Tunnel boring begins at Nehru Park

Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) commenced tunnelling using the first Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) at Nehru Park metro station on Saturday.

Two TBMs shipped from Shanghai in China, in December last year, as a part of an MoU between CMRL and joint venture partners, Larsen & Toubro, India, and China-based Shanghai Urban Construction Group, have been assembled in the city.

The TBMs are used to excavate tunnels with circular cross section in order to connect underground stations. A total of 11 TBMs will be used for Metro Rail work in the city. Two of them will be deployed at Nehru Park station. Chinese workers who arrived in the city last month will handle these machines.

“Of the 11, we expect nine TBMs to be operational by year-end and the rest by the beginning of next year,” said Rock Mickell of General Consultants. The firm is assisting CMRL in supervising the metro rail project in the city.

With a capacity to work continuously for more than 10,000 hours, TBMs can operate at speeds varying between 6 metres to 10 metres per day.

The first tunnelling segment from Nehru Park station to Egmore station, a distance of 939 metres, will be covered in five months.

Heavy concrete liners for the tunnels were manufactured in a casting factory at Vayalanallur on the outskirts of the city.

An underground metro station consists of three levels — roof, concourse and base. The platform will be at base level. The stations will have multiple entry and exit points. Work on underground stations is expected to be completed by April 2015.

Phase 1 of the Metro Rail project comprises two corridors with a combined length of 45 km. Corridor-I runs from Washermenpet to airport via Anna Salai, and corridor-II connects Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount via Koyambedu.


China railway coal transport capacity to reach 3 billion tonnes by 2015

According to a recently released development plan on the country transportation system during the 12th Five-year Plan period that China railway transport capacity of coal is expected to reach 3 billion tonnes by 2015.

In China, around 60% of coal transported by railway from major coal producing regions, which are located in western and northern China to the eastern and southern parts of China.

There are three major coal dedicated rail lines in China,
1. Daqin
2. Houyue
3. Shuohuang lines

Daqin Railway transported 440 million tonnes of coal in 2011, 4.4 times the original designed capacity. The Houyue railway transported 184.13 million tonnes of coal, increasing 3% or 5.39 million tonnes from a year ago. The Shuohuang Railway hauled 177 million tonnes of coal in 2011 and sets the target for this year at 191 million tonnes.

In view of coal rail capacity bottlenecks, China will strive to expand rail lines from Shanxi, Shaanxi and western Inner Mongolia to Caofeidian Port, from central and southern Shanxi to Shandong coastal ports, etc. and build new lines from Ordos and Shaanxi to central China like Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi.

According to the plan, the demand for transporting coal by rail is expected to hit 2.6 billion tonnes by 2015, but it requires transportation capacity of 2.8 billion tonnes to 3 billion tonnes given imbalance of railway, ports production and consumption.






Railway traverses 'sea of death'

BEIJING - China finished Sunday construction on a railway to Lop Nur, a dried lake in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region that is known as the "sea of death" for its high salt content.

The construction on the railway, which stretches from Hami prefecture on the China-Mongolia border to Lop Nur near China's largest desert, the Taklamakan, started two years ago with an investment of 3 billion yuan ($476 million).

The railway was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Railways, the regional government of Xinjiang and a branch of the State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC), a state-owned investment giant that has a potassium fertilizer base in Lop Nur.

Trains will stop at nine stations before reaching Lop Nur, an area that has an estimated 500 million tonnes of potassium salt.

At the end of the railway, a cluster of buildings have been built by a SDIC subsidiary for the purpose of tapping local resources. The company already has a salt mining project that turns out 1.2 million tonnes of salt annually and works on an even larger project.

China consumes more than 10 million tonnes of potassium salt each year, 70 percent of which is imported. China's reserves total about 457 million tonnes, less than 3 percent of the world's total.

The "sea of death" also has large reserves of non-ferrous metals, including nickel, gold and copper, local authorities said.

The railway will have a freight capacity of 30 million tonnes a year and lower transportation costs by 80 yuan per tonne, the Urumqi Railway Bureau said.

Lop Nur was the largest lake in northwest China before it dried up in 1972 as a result of desertification and environmental degradation.

It once nurtured the population of Loulan, or Kroraina which was an ancient city and a pivotal stop along the well-known Silk Road but mysteriously disappeared around the third century.

Due to its geological, geographical and historical values, Lop Nur has attracted attention of scientists from home and abroad since the mid-19th century.

In 1980, Chinese scientist Peng Jiamu went missing on his fourth group expedition to Lop Nur. His whereabouts were never known. 



China to put 200b yuan in railway construction by 2015

The railway infrastructure projects are expected to attract 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) investments, including private capitals, during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, Economic Information Daily reported Monday citing an official at the National Development and Reform Commission.

The property development model is encouraged by the NDRC to attract enterprises, including private capitals, join in the construction of inter-city railways, so as to diversify the investment channels.

Some centrally administrated State-owned Enterprises, coordinated by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, set their footprints in the railway infrastructure construction field.

The Ministry of Railways issued Implementing Opinions on Encouraging and Guiding Private Capital to Invest in Railways to encourage and guide the private capital participate the railways construction projects.

The railway infrastructure investments was 148.7 billion yuan, dropped 38.6 percent in the first half, comparing with the same period of last year, said a Ministry of Railways statistic released recently. The statistic also showed the investment in the first half is only 33.8 percent of the planned 440 billion yuan total investment.

China Railway Materials Plans Shanghai, Hong Kong IPO

SHANGHAI—State-owned China Railway Materials Co. is planning to raise up to six billion yuan ($943 million) from the Shanghai portion of dual listing that includes Hong Kong, less than it originally forecast, as it seeks funding to strengthen its operations and expand.

China Railway Materials, which handles logistics for China's giant railroad system and supplies steel rails and diesel fuel to trains, plans to issue up to 2.77 billion A-shares in the Shanghai portion of the deal, according to a preliminary prospectus posted on the China Securities Regulatory Commission's website late Friday.

The Beijing-based company is also planning to issue up to 1.44 billion H-shares in a Hong Kong offering, according to the prospectus. It didn't say how much the company wants to raise from the Hong Kong portion, nor did it say when it planned to list there.

Likely reflecting a downturn in markets, the size of the initial public offering is less than what the company said it hoped to raise when it announced its IPO plan in November. At that time, it said it was planning to raise 14.7 billion yuan, according to China's Ministry of Environmental Protection, which must approve IPO plans by companies whose operations affect the environment.

The Shanghai Composite Index is down 12% since then.

China Railway Materials said in its IPO prospectus that it will use the proceeds from the A-share portion of the offer to invest in its logistics operations as well as repay debt.

Analysts said the planned share sales in a weak market could be a sign of how the slowing economy is pinching the company's finances.

"The railway sector, as with other areas of the economy, is looking for capital and facing difficulties because of the sluggish macroeconomic situation," said Zhou Xu, an analyst at Nanjing Securities. "Many companies are trying to find ways to make it through the [economic] winter, and will look to an IPO as a means of raising funds."

China's rail sector usually relies on bank loans for funding, but banks have been reluctant to lend to the cash-strapped rail ministry and many of its related companies following a fatal high-speed train crash near the coastal city of Wenzhou last July.

Since that crash, the ministry has seen borrowing costs in the bond markets surge, but China Railway Materials is likely hoping to capitalize on government moves to encourage investment in the industry, analysts said.

In April, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged local governments to ensure that railway-network construction is properly funded, calling for a comprehensive look at the industry's development.  









KiwiRail was forced to replace sub-standard brakes on all of its 500 Chinese made freight wagons before they entered service last year.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show initial tests found that when fully loaded to 72 tonnes gross the wagons failed to stop within the code requirement of 650 metres.

KiwiRail says the quickest, simplest and most cost effective solution was to replace the brake blocks with a marginally higher-friction version.

In a statement, KiwiRail says it carried out this work directly but any additional costs were borne by the manufacturer under warranty.

It says replacing brake blocks on wagons is a routine maintenance activity and typically needs doing between two and four times a year depending on mileage.

Wagons should have been made here - Labour
The Labour Party says the situation is a disgrace.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, who has been critical of the decision to send the wagon work offshore, says she's appalled the original brakes were not up to scratch.

She says it's an example of why the wagons, costing $49 million, should have been made at KiwiRail's own Hillside workshops in Dunedin.

New Zealand First transport spokesperson Brendan Horan says the quality of the Chinese wagons leaves a lot to be desired.

A Rail and Maritime Transport Union spokesperson says there have been multiple issues with the Chinese wagons since their introduction and union members are frustrated about it.

But KiwiRail freight operations manager Aaron Templeton told Checkpoint the wagons are performing well and have travelled more than 26 million kilometres.

He says some problems are to be expected when introducing new rolling stock. "We have had some issues, but they are consistent with what we would expect when we are commissioning new equipment."

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is not commenting on the braking problem, saying it is an operational matter for KiwiRail. 








Stage two of rail project enters tendering

Etihad Rail has started preparing to build the stage two of the railway project in Abu Dhabi by inviting tenders for the first three major contracts.

The invitations were issued this month to all pre-qualified companies for contracts covering the design and build of 137 kilometres new railway lines between Ruwais and Ghweifat, and 190 kilometres long railway between Liwa Junction and Al Ain, as well as for the railway integration and systems contract covering signalling, communications and commissioning for the stage two network. Stage two represents a significant component of the national rail network, in both scale and scope, as it will further connect industrial and urban areas, and will see the railway connect with the planned GCC network-linking with Saudi Arabia at Ghweifat and Oman at Al Ain.

Construction of stage two is scheduled to begin early next year, following the award of tendered contracts.

The tendering of the first contracts for stage two follows the commencement earlier this year of construction works near Mirfa in the Western Region for stage one of the network.

Stage one of the network is being developed in partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, or Adnoc, who will adopt rail as the main means for transporting granulated sulphur from Shah and Habshan to the port of Ruwais for export.

The railway network will be built in phases to link the principal centres of population and industry of the UAE, as well as to form a vital part of the planned GCC railway network linking the six countries of the GCC.

Etihad Rail’s state-of-the-art network will act as a catalyst for economic growth and sustained social development.

Once complete, the railway will redefine logistics and transport in the region, providing a modern, safe, efficient, sustainable network that will connect all regions of the UAE, and the UAE to its wider GCC neighbouring countries. Etihad Rail has recently announced a number of contract awards for stage one of the rail network: the civil and track works contract was awarded to a consortium comprising Italy’s Saipem, Tecnimont and UAE-based Dodsal Engineering and Construction. The Project Management Consultant (PMC) contract was awarded to joint venture Parsons-Aecom.

PCM Strescon Ventures got the contract for the provision of railway sleepers. The Indian company will be responsible for the provision of railway sleepers in a purpose-built sleeper manufacturing facility at our rail head. Electro-Motive Diesel, from North America, was assigned to deliver seven locomotives custom-built for desert conditions by 2012. CSR Corporation Limited China was appointed to supply 240 covered hopper wagons for the movement of granulated sulphur in the Western Region. 

 Xinjiang railway service suspended due to flood

Train services on parts of the Southern Xinjiang Railway in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region was suspended on Saturday morning due to flood, local authorities said.

The flood water has immersed parts of the rails and caused the train service of the Turpan-Korla section to be suspended, a Urumqi Railway Bureau official said.

More than 300 rescuers are working at the site. The trapped passengers have been arranged in safe places.







Beijing-Baotou Rail Traffic Resumes after Flood

A railway linking Beijing with Baotou, a city in north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, reopened Thursday after rain-triggered flooding had left traffic paralyzed since late Wednesday.

Strong downpours pelted Inner Mongolia starting around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, inundating two sections of the rail line with floodwater and silt, according to the railway bureau of Hohhot, the regional capital.

The bureau said 24 train trips had been delayed, leaving about 12,000 passengers stranded.

Traffic had resumed as of 10 a.m. Thursday after 500 soldiers were mobilized to pump water and repair tracks at the flooded sections.

Freight and passenger trains have resumed travel on the line but have reduced their speed to less than 35 km/hour for safety concerns, the bureau said.

Torrential rains have devastated 22 provincial-level regions in China since July 20, including Beijing where the heaviest rains in six decades Saturday killed 77.

China Ministry: January-June Railway Investment Falls 36.1% On Year  

BEIJING--Fixed-asset investment in China's railways in the January-June period fell 36.1%

compared with a year earlier, the Ministry of Railways said.

The level of fixed-asset investment in Chinese railways fell to 177.75 billion yuan ($28.1

billion) during the period, the ministry said in a statement on its website dated Friday.

Investment in rail infrastructure, a subset of fixed assets, fell 38.6% on year to CNY148.7

billion, the ministry said.

The ministry didn't provide reasons for the sharp decline.

Construction of railways has slowed sharply since mid-2011 after a train crash last July

that killed 40 people.  








Loveland's DataTraks sells 82 rail-safety systems to China

DataTraks, a small company that develops and maintains products for railroads, announced

Thursday an order from China for 82 of its SafeTraks systems.

The roughly $30,000 contract with China "is not totally huge," said DataTraks president and

founder James Bilodeau, "but it's bigger than we've gotten before."

He said the order is a "baby step" toward supplying the huge market that China represents.

DataTraks employs half a dozen programmers and engineers in its downtown Loveland location.

Bilodeau founded the company in 1998 and moved it to Loveland in 2005.

The SafeTraks system developed by DataTraks measures the temperature of continuously welded

train tracks.

If a stretch of continuous track gets too hot and expands too much, it can buckle, causing a

costly derailment.

The systems in the new order will be installed across China, including 12 for a line in


Bilodeau said small orders will continue to be assembled at the Loveland location, but a

contract for more than 1,000 SafeTraks devices would require the company to outsource its

manufacturing - most likely to China, the location of its main customers.

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