This is believed to be double the amount China had previously envisaged, and the investment would be made through a new special purpose vehicle company.

The memorandum calls for cooperation in design, consulting, equipment supply, construction, investment and finance. It also allows the use of Chinese technology and equipment in high-speed trains and cooperation in their production, as well as accessing Chinese experience in the construction and operation of high-speed lines. The 770km Moscow – Kazan high-speed line will be implemented as public-private partnership in the form of a concession.

The agreement was signed by Mr Maxim Sokolov, Russia's transport minister, Dr Vladimir Yakunin, president of Russian Railways (RZD), Mr Sheng Guangji, CEO of Chinese Railways Corporation, and Mr Xu Shaoshi, chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, in the presence of Russia's president Mr Vladimir Putin.

RZD recently selected a consortium led by Mosgiprotrans and including Nizhegorodmetroproekt and China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEC) to provide preliminary surveys and design for the project.