The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, the longest and most expensive of its kind in China, broke ground here on Friday, a giant step the country has taken to materialize its high-speed railway dream.
Upon its completion in 2013, the 1,318-km Beijing-Shanghai railway with an investment of 220.9 billion yuan (31.6 billion U.S. dollars) will cut travel time between the two cities from the present 10 hours to five hours, doubling the existing transport capacity to 160 million passengers annually.
Following are the key facts and figures on China's rapid developing railway industry:
--Under the Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Program released in 2005, the total mileage of China's railways in operation will reach 100,000 kilometers by 2020. The total length of railways allowing a speed of more than 200 km/hr will reach 18,000 km while express train services will cover 50,000 km, benefiting 90 percent of China's population.
--The program also foresaw a total investment of two trillion yuan in railway building, equivalent to a yearly average of 130 billion yuan in the 15 years ending 2020.
-- China has invested 522 billion yuan in railway construction between 2003 and 2007, more than twice as much as the figure from 1998 to 2002. In 2008 alone, the investment was expected to hit 300 billion yuan as 7,820 kilometers of rail lines were to be laid.
-- China unveiled its ambition to build a high-speed railway network as early as 2005 when the construction of the 995-kilometer-long railway between Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, and south China's Guangzhou city started.
-- In succession, the express passenger railway linking Shijiazhuang of Hebei Province and Taiyuan, provincial capital of Shanxi and that linking Wuhan and Hefei of eastern Anhui Province, both with a designed speed of no less than 200 km/hr, also broke ground.
-- A shorter Beijing-Tianjin Railway, widely considered as a trial line for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, will be put into service before the August Beijing Olympics.
-- China's first domestically produced high-speed trains, able to reach 350 kilometers per hour, rolled off the production line early April and would begin service on the 120-km-long Beijing-Tianjin route. They will cut the travel time from 80 minutes at present to 30 minutes.
-- In December 2007, China became the world's fourth country after France, Germany and Japan that can domestically produce 300-km/hr trains.
-- To cope with the rising pressure of railway traffic driven by its robust economy, China has raised train speeds six times as of April 2007, with railways allowing a speed of more than 200 km/hr totaling 6,227 km in length.
-- China's railways carried 1.36 billion passengers in 2007, up 8 percent over a year ago. More than 3 billion tonnes of cargo were transported by rail, an increase of 8.6 percent. In 2008, passengers would make more than 1.4 billion rail journeys and the cargo transported by railway would exceed 3.3 billion tons.