France wants more European cooperation on high-speed rail

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France would like to see increased European cooperation in the development of high-speed trains in order to compete with China, French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said Tuesday.

"It would be a shame if the country that invented the TGV (high-speed train) was no longer able to export it," Bussereau said on board a train that makes the 120-kilometre (75-mile) Beijing-Tianjin trip in just 30 minutes.

During a visit to Shanghai on Monday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he hoped China would invest in his state's future high-speed rail network. He also rode a Japanese bullet train on Tuesday.

The western US state, which is China's fourth largest trading partner, is looking to build a system by 2030 that will carry 90 million passengers a year, with a Los Angeles-San Francisco line at the heart of the network.

China is up against Japan, France, Germany and other bidders for a slice of President Barack Obama's wide-ranging plan to revitalise the US rail network, which is backed by 13 billion dollars in public funding.

China is already vying to build rail links between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil, as well as between Buenos Aires and Cordoba in Argentina, Bussereau said.

At home, Beijing plans to invest about 120 billion dollars to nearly double its high-speed rail network by 2012. It currently has 6,920 kilometres of high-speed lines in operation.

"If in Europe we cannot manage to put up a united front in the face of Chinese competition, we run the risk of having a few disagreements," the French minister told reporters.

Bussereau said he hoped the increased liberalisation of Europe's rail networks would mean better cooperation among national rail companies and eventually among builders.

"I hope this will happen with all my heart. Otherwise, our Chinese friends will move ahead and we'll have trouble catching up," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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