In a secret offer to the Swedish Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, a Chinese company has really caught the attention of Swedish politicians.
Leaked to Sweden’s national TV broadcaster, SVT, China Railway Construction is said to offer to build Sweden’s planned high-speed railway in five years fewer, and for $3bn less, than was originally estimated by the Swedish Transport Administration’s calculations.
The large Chinese rail contractor propose to build and elevated railway on bridges, five meters above ground. This is the predominant construction method in large parts of Asia, and especially those in China and Japan.
When building the railway on concrete structures above ground one saves an enormous amount of earthworks. Fifty percent of the cost of an ordinary embankment lies in what is not seen, under the railway.
While a conventional double track railway requires 26 meters of land width it is enough with six meter wide pillars holding up the concrete structure. This saves valuable land and time otherwise going into earthworks, according to the experts.
“The bridge structure for the elevated railway consists in prefabricated elements that are between twenty to thirty meters long, and placed and connected on of the bridge piers,” says railway expert Per Corshammar.
According him the cost of risk for the state is high in building on the ground, as one often end up in unforeseen situations with long unstable land sections. This can be avoided when building an elevated railway.
In addition, less material consumption, virtually no land purchases and a less expensive construction technique mean that the cost of the Swedish high-speed line according to the experts can be reduced by approximately SEK 25 billion – based on the elevated railway solution.
“They say that they can build the entire Swedish high-speed network in just five years and it’s very interesting for us. We will of course need to review their claims, but we see that they themselves build their own railways in their own country and in other countries at rapid pace,” said Karin Svensson Smith (MP), Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport.
Swedish politicians are so impressed by the proposal that they will travel to China to learn more.
“They say of course that they can build the entire Swedish high-speed network in just five years and it’s very interesting for us,” said Karin Svensson Smith.
“We get to review their claims, but we see that they themselves build their own railways in their own country and in other countries with high speed.”
But China may have competition because, according to Karin Svensson Smith, half the committee will go to Japan, the world’s other high-speed rail heavyweight.
“Half the Committee will travel to Japan and half to China to study the high-speed and efficient movement of trains, and there will be a lot of studies on building on bridges, especially in China.”