The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Monday that the Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed maglev railway and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway have both been approved by the State Council.
An industry insider noted that the approval of the two key transport projects signals the arrival of the high-speed age in China.
According to the NDRC, a feasibility study on the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev railway will now begin.
With a total length of 175 kilometers, construction of the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev railway is expected to launch this year and is expected to be in operation before the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, according to a deputy to the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC).
The normal speed of the maglev railway will be 450 km per hour, but it will be limited to under 200 km per hour in the city's downtown areas. Sources said it will take passengers only half an hour to travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou.
With a total cost of 35 billion yuan (about 4.3 billion U.S. dollars), the new maglev railway is expected to further beef up links between Shanghai and Hangzhou and boost cooperation among the areas in the booming Yangtze River Delta, experts said.
According to the NDRC, high-speed rail technology, rather than maglev technology, will be adopted in the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project.
With the total length of 1,320 km, the railway will have a maximum speed of 350 km per hour, but operate at a normal speed of 300 km per hour.
A few days ago, Chinese Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun said at the ongoing Tenth National People's Congress (NPC) that the high-speed railway will be built using technologies developed by China itself.
The minister also said the railway will need an investment of 140 billion yuan (17.5 billion dollars), and the ministry will encourage multi-channel fund-raising from domestic and overseas investors.
The NDRC affirmed that Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway Co., Ltd will be founded for the construction and operation of the new railway.
The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway is an important project in China's mid- and long-term railway network scheme, which will help ease the strained railway transport situation between the country's two largest cities.
According to sources with the Ministry of Railways, China plans to extend its railway length to 100,000 km by 2020. Over 12,000 km of high-speed railways are to built in the coming years with a total cost of between 2 trillion yuan (250 billion dollars) and 2.5 trillion yuan (312.5 billion dollars).