When it comes to throwing down railway tracks, China is nothing if not ambitious. Hardly a day goes by when it doesn’t announce the construction of yet another line into the fastness of the Middle Kingdom, or the opening of yet another route for high-speed passenger trains.
But it’s in forging rail links to the rest of Asia and Europe where China is most ambitious. The country has already dispatched freight trains to Spain. And it would seem to like nothing more than to punch a standard-gauge line through Central Asia to Turkey.
China is also keen to link up with its neighbors — no mean feat, given their different gauges, as well as their lack of rail infrastructure itself.
Indeed, the break of gauge is particularly troublesome, as the map below shows. Yet, one shouldn’t rule out the possibility that a country as big and powerful as China won’t step in and convert neighboring railway systems to standard gauge.