SHANGHAI, Aug 16 (Reuters) - China has reopened tenders for high-speed trains worth an estimated $8.2 billion, lifting a suspension imposed after a crash that killed dozens of passengers in 2011 and signalling a new phase of construction in the country's vast railway network.
State-owned giant China Railway Investment Corp (CRIC) said it had opened tenders for 91 bullet trains with a speed of 250 kilometres (155 miles) per hour.
The move marks the start of another wave of construction in the world's largest high-speed railway and indicates that the government feels public confidence in the network has recovered from the accident which killed at least 32 people in eastern Zhejiang province.
The railway investment firm said it opened the tenders on behalf of five Chinese regional railway bureaus of Nanchang, Chengdu, Nanning, Wuhan and Shanghai.
"Funds for purchases of these trains have already been reserved," it said in a statement.
The tenders are open only to China-based train makers which have licences for manufacturing high-speed trains, it added.
Local media estimated that the tenders would be worth more than 50 billion yuan ($8.2 billion), including trains, locomotives and supplementary equipment.
China's top two locomotive makers - China CSR Corp and China CNR Corp - are the two firms most likely to benefit from the new contracts, the media said.
"The tenders are only the first and will surely be followed by others over time," the official Shanghai Securities News said in a report on Friday.
China's cabinet announced last month that it would widen funding channels to speed railway investment, among a slew of other measures to boost the sharply slowing growth of the world's second largest economy.
The State Council decided to set up a railway development fund, with initial money from the central government but also trying to attract contributions from private investors.
The Zhejiang crash led to allegations of massive corruption, the arrest of the head of the railways ministry and eventually the break-up of the ministry's functions into separate commercial and regulatory agencies. (Reporting by Lu Jianxin and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Stephen Coates)