Korea Eyes $45 Bil. Hi-Speed Train Contract for California
By Kim Hyun-cheol
A Korean delegation has departed for California ahead of bidding for a $45 billion high-speed rail system.
During their stay, 18 delegates from 12 Korean companies will visit the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), a state entity responsible for the project.
The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), part of the delegation, said that it will promote the advantages of the Korean system and its successful operations.
"We have competitiveness in price and technologies equal to those of rival countries, plus an edge in IT technologies to be used in rail-controlling and signal systems," a KOTRA spokesman said.
Several Korean firms involving construction, design, train manufacturing, railway operation and financing will soon team up for a consortium for the massive project, before submitting a proposal to the California state government next month.
No official bidding process has been disclosed yet, but countries such as France, Germany and Japan, which can produce their own high-speed rail, are likely to compete.
KOTRA President Cho Hwan-ik, who presided over a meeting with the delegating companies last month ahead of the departure, expected the bidding to be a competition of technology at a national level.
"The stakes are that high," Cho said.
California wants a network of high-speed rail with trains operating at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour between San Francisco and Los Angeles in two-and-half hours.
The California high-speed rail would include stopovers at other major California cities such as Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno, and San Diego.
Connections with commercial airports, mass transit, and the highway network are also provided as part of the system. The system will deal with 102.4 million passengers and 340 trains in 2035, according to the CHSRA.
The construction of the $45-billion project is expected to begin around 2012. An implementation plan, approved in 2005, estimates that it would take eight to 11 years to develop before the operation of an initial segment of the high-speed train.