Large-scale railway construction to be launched

Railway constructors in China are faced with the best opportunity as the State Council, or cabinet, has approved in principle an ambitious goal of building 28,000 kilometers of railways by the year 2020, a top railway official said Monday in Beijing.

Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun told the on-going national railway conference that the State Council has just approved in principle in country's medium- and long-term plan of railway construction.

Under the plan, railways in operation in China will be extended from the current 72,000 kilometers to 100,000 kilometers by 2020, the ratio of double-track railways and electrified lines will both reach 50 percent, and the major railway technology and equipment will reach or near the international advanced level, he said.

With one-sixth of the length of the world's railways, China's railway sector accounts for 23 percent of the global transport volume, making itself the busiest in the world.

As most of China's busy railway lines are working beyond capacity, China has to meet the dire need for vehicles during holidays.

Liu called on the railway sector to seize the opportunity to expand transport capability and technological level so as to consolidate and reinforce the key role of railways in the country's modern transport system.

As the plan calls for separate lines for cargo and passenger transportation in busy trunk lines, 12,000 kilometers of special lines for passenger trains will be built before 2020, along with express passenger transport systems planned in the Bohai Sea ring, the Yangtze River delta and Pearl River delta, Liu said.

The chance also goes to western China, where 16,000 kilometers of railways will have been built by 2020 to link the southwestern and northwestern border areas with the neighboring countries, while improving the railway networks in west, east and central China.

According to Liu, China will also raise the speed of trains for the fifth time this year, increasing the average speed to more than 160 kilometers per hour along 7,700 kilometers of lines. The sixth speed increase is planned for 2005.

o meet the demand for the large-scale railway construction, the ministry is exploring more channels to raise funds, including allowing domestic and foreign investors to be involved in the construction of major trunk passenger lines and inter-city lines.

Foreign advanced technology will be introduced for a rapid improvement in the manufacturing of locomotives and rail cars, Liu said.



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