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China to export high-speed train parts to Europe

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(BEIJING) - A Chinese train maker said Wednesday it will sell components to German engineering giant Siemens, in what will be the first time Chinese high-speed train parts have been exported to Europe.

The deal, reportedly worth more than 11 million euros ($13.6 million), will see parts including some aluminium-alloy car bodies shipped to Europe, said an official with the state-owned China CNR Corporation Limited.

He said it marks the first time that such Chinese train parts will be exported to the continent.

"(Siemens) will place more orders as long as the first order passes their checks," said the official, who declined to be named. "They are likely to make China a regular supplier of such parts."

China has built the world's largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade, but the railway ministry has been accused of overlooking safety in its rush to develop the country's vast transport network.

The Beijing News reported Wednesday that, according to an agreement signed in April, a subsidiary of the Chinese company was to produce high-speed train parts worth 11.55 million euros for Siemens this year.

Officials at Siemens in Beijing were not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP Wednesday.

The train car bodies are "one of the nine key technologies" in the manufacturing of high-speed trains as there are strict requirements for the welding of aluminium alloy to achieve precise sizes, said the CNR official.

The reputation of China's high-speed trains was tarnished after a bullet train collision in July last year near the eastern city of Wenzhou killed at least 40 people and injured hundreds.

In the weeks following the accident, authorities announced a halt to new train projects and introduced new speed restrictions on bullet train lines.

An accident report released late last year blamed design flaws and poor management for the crash, which sparked public fury and worries over the safety of the nation's rail system.

The government said previously that more than 50 people would be punished for the disaster.

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