Groundwork started Thursday on a high-speed passenger rail line that will link Shanghai with Hangzhou in east China with trains that can run up to 350 km per hour.
When service starts in 2011, travel time from Zhejiang's capital of Hangzhou to Shanghai will fall to 38 minutes from more than one hour at present, Yu Jian'er, general manager of the Zhejiang Provincial Railway Investment Group Co. Ltd., said Thursday.
That group is building the 159-km line, which will have nine stations. Trains would run at three-minute intervals at rush hour, said Yu.
The Ministry of Railways, the governments of Shanghai and Zhejiang and Baosteel Group will finance the project, which will cost 29.68 billion yuan (about 4.37 billion U.S. dollars).
Yu said that the line, considered a "golden route" for its potential profits, might be listed on the stock market if the Ministry of Railways gave its approval.
Rail capacity in the Yangtze River Delta region has reached saturation point, said Yu. He said that during peak travel seasons, cargo transport was often suspended to make way for passenger trains.
Two other rail lines in the Yangtze "economic circle", which includes Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou, are also scheduled for completion by 2011. Once all three are finished, passengers will be able to travel between any two of these major cities within an hour, much faster than at present.
For example, the line from Hangzhou to Nanjing, capital of neighboring Jiangsu Province, will provide a 50-minute trip. At present, passengers must go by way of Shanghai, which takes as long as eight hours.