China firm to sell first high-speed trains to the EU

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BEIJING: A Chinese firm has signed an agreement to sell high-speed trains to the Czech Republic, its first deal with a member of the European Union, state media reported as Beijing urges its rail makers to expand overseas.

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The deal will see CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive—a subsidiary of Chinese rail giant CRRC, the world’s largest train maker—sell three trains to the Czech railway company Leo Express for 20 million euros ($20.9 million), China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

The first of the three trains, which will run at a speed of 160 kilometres (99 miles) per hour, is scheduled to be delivered by mid-2018, according to Liao Hongtao, vice general manager of CRRC Zhuzhou.

The deal comes as Beijing seeks to create high-tech firms capable of competing for lucrative contracts with foreign giants.

“The sale to (the) Czech (Republic) represents the international market’s recognition (of) Chinese manufacturers,” Xinhua cited Liao as saying.

Chinese firms have signed deals to build railways in several countries, including Indonesia, Serbia, Macedonia and the United States —where CRRC Zhuzhou’s parent company signed a $1.3-billion contract with the city of Chicago this year to manufacture subway carriages and replace around half of its fleet.

But some foreign deals have fallen through, with Mexican authorities cancelling a multi-billion dollar high-speed rail project last year amid allegations of favouritism during the bidding process.

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