International rail engineering companies are expected to bid next week on the USD$1.73bn Beijing-Tianjin high-speed railway project, state media reported, citing a Ministry of Railways source who declined to name which companies have been invited to bid. Japan's Shinkansen, France's TGV and Germany's ICE are among the leading high-speed railway engineering firms. The project marks a first step towards the economic integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regions. Other rail projects being planned will link Wuhan with Guangzhou, and Zhengzhou with Xi'an. The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail is still awaiting approval. The Quzhou-Changshan railway in Zhejiang Province, the first-ever railway to be built with privately invested shares, will begin construction this year.