Sichuan is expanding its railway network in a bid to position itself as a transport hub for western China, governor Jiang Jufeng said at the opening of the provincial people's congress yesterday.
One major project will be the construction of a railway to connect Sichuan with Europe and Southeast Asia, Xie Hong, director of the provincial development and reform commission, said.
Sichuan is an inland province that is also far from the country's borders.
Almost all cargo Sichuan exports to Europe travels by sea route from eastern China.
Dai Bin, a professor with the College of Public Administration at Jiaotong University in the provincial capital of Chengdu, said the planned railway will open up a new land passageway for foreign trade between western China and Europe, as well as western China and North America.
On January 10, Liu Qibao, Party secretary of Sichuan, and Jiang signed an agreement with Liu Zhijun, minister of railways, in Beijing to accelerate railway construction in the province.
Under the agreement, the construction of six new railways will be included in the national railway network plan. The total investment in Sichuan will be 140 billion yuan ($19.3 billion).
The Chengdu-Lanzhou and Chengdu-Xi'an railways will link Sichuan with the Central Asia Railway and the Eurasia Continental Bridge, opening up the province's northern passageway.
On completion of the railways, Sichuan's annual transportation capacity will grow to 300 million tons of cargo, 10 times the current level.
The Chengdu-Guiyang Railway will open Sichuan's southern passageway to link Sichuan with the Beibu Gulf, Pearl River Delta and Southeast Asia. When it is completed, the annual transportation capacity will be 160 pairs of passenger trains and 170 million tons of cargo, 145 pairs and 140 million tons more than now.
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will create a network linking Sichuan's western passageway with Tibet, Qinghai province and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
The annual transportation capacity is expected to hit 20 million tons once the railway is completed.
The new lines will boost Sichuan's total rail network by 1,200 km by 2012, Xie said.
Source: China Daily