High-speed rail will set the pace in Turkey (3)

08:28, July 13, 2011      

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Hiring locally

Construction of Phase 2 began in 2008, but China Civil Engineering started its preparation as early as 2004 to win the bid for the project. Thirty companies, including some from Japan, South Korea and Europe, formed eight partnerships in the competition.

China Civil Engineering's partnership, with China National Machinery Import & Export Corp and two Turkish companies, Cengiz and IC Ictas, won the bid in December 2005. The contract was signed in July 2006.

A total of $1.27 billion was raised from both countries. China contributed $720 million in loans.

Now more than 1,000 laborers, technicians and support staff are working on the project. Just over 40 are from China, Zheng said. "We hope in the future to have only a few senior Chinese administrative staff here, leaving all other jobs to local people."

Talking about its future here, Zheng said the company is in discussion with Turkey about building a 2,000-km high-speed railway linking the border towns Edirne in the northwest, close to Bulgaria and Greece, and Kars in the northeast, near Georgia and Armenia.

"We are discussing with them. We want to cut the project into different phases and construct them one by one," he said.

Turkish State Railways, which is in charge of the country's HSR development, had not responded by deadline to a China Daily interview request on whether China would get more projects.

But according to the agency, Turkey plans to construct some 6,000 km of high-speed railway by 2023, the country's 100th anniversary.

The Ankara-Istanbul line is the country's first high-speed line. Phase 1, which runs more than 200 km from Ankara west to Eskisehir, was built by a Spanish company and opened in early 2009.

When the entire line opens, travel time between Ankara and Istanbul, the country's two largest cities, will shorten from seven hours to less than four.
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