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Germany

Berlin, Beijing Sign High-Speed Rail Deal

China said it had signed a cooperation agreement with Germany's transport ministry for joint development of high-speed rail technology.

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China operates one high-speed magnetic train, in Shanghai

Officials for China's ministry of railways said they would cooperate with Germany on "designing and constructing passenger railway lines with designed speeds of 200 kilometers (125 miles) per hour and higher."

Both sides will improve cooperation on railway-equipment design and manufacturing, railway lines and equipment maintenance, information technology and other technologies in the sector.

Leg up on the competition?

State media said the agreement signals that Germany's maglev train builder has made a breakthrough in competition for high-speed rail orders from China against its French and Japanese rivals.

Transrapid in Schanghai / Shanghai

Maglev train at platform in Shanghai

Maglev technology was developed by Transrapid International, a consortium comprising German industrial giants ThyssenKrupp and Siemens. It allows trains to barrel at speeds of up to 430 kilometers per hour.

China currently operates a short maglev line linking Shanghai's new airport to the city. China planned last year to invest some $16 billion (13 billion euros) to build a high speed link between Shanghai and Beijing -- a top priority project for the nation.

Hot competition

China has invited tenders from German, Japanese and French firms to build the 1,300 kilometer link. Preliminary reports last year that Japan's technology was being strongly considered met with fierce criticism from anti-Japanese Web sites in China.

Hochgeschwindigkeitszug Shinkansen in Tokio Hauptbahnhof

Japanese "shinkansen" bullet train

Japan's shinkansen bullet trains (photo) and France's TGV high-speed trains were once thought to be leading candidates for the bid as maglev technology was considered too expensive.

On Tuesday, Chinese Vice-Premier Huang Ju told visiting German Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe that China will strengthen international cooperation to improve construction, equipment and management of the railway sector.

Massive construction

Huang said China needs to increase railway construction to meet the demands of a fast-growing national economy and will work with other countries to do so.

China has been conducting a massive railway construction program nationwide with the aim to extend its operational track from 75,000 kilometers to 100,000 kilometers by 2020.

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