US firm XpressWest is destroying its own credibility by cancelling a contract it had with a Chinese rail consortium to build the Los Angeles-Las Vegas high-speed rail link, a commentary on Chinese newswire Xinhua said on Saturday.

The commentary entitled “irresponsible and self-depreciating behaviour” called the Vegas-based company a “collaborator with no credibility.” It said that “American’s ‘dream of a rail line’ would have to be delayed.”

XpressWest train. Photo: XpressWest.

“China understands some American’s desire to build the rail line, and thus eagerly supported the construction project – but although we demonstrate trust as collaborator, it does not mean we unconditionally accept ‘an act of unreasonable bargaining’,” said the commentary.

XpressWest cancelled the deal with China Railway International (CRI) last Thursday. The US company said the deal was terminated primarily because of “difficulties associated with timely performance and CRI’s challenges in obtaining required authority to proceed with required development activities.”

‘Inflexible requirement’

It said its biggest challenge in implementing the project, which was announced nine months ago, was a federal government requirement that high-speed trains must be built in the United States.

“As everyone knows, there are no high-speed trains manufactured in the United States,” the company said. “This inflexible requirement has been a fundamental barrier to financing high-speed rail in our country.

XPressWest said it would now pursue other partnerships to bring the project to fruition, but did not elaborate.

The deal with CRI was announced in September, just days ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States.

The two sides said at the time that CRI would provide US$100 million (HK$776 million) in initial capital, but few other details about the project were given.

The United States has lagged far behind China, Japan and Europe in high-speed rail development. China has blazed ahead, building 17,000 kilometers of railway in the 12 years since it began constructing bullet trains.


Gene Lin

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.