China keeps on high-speed rail extension

10:18, June 14, 2011      

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China's high-speed trains will extend to far longer routes as Beijing has not altered its massive buildup plan for the next five years, and a top railway official vowed to construct 30,000-km new lines by 2015.

Total investment in railways during the coming five years is put at 2.8 trillion yuan ($430 billion), an increase of 41.5 percent from 2006-2010.

Hu Yadong, a vice-minister of railways, told reporters yesterday in Beijing: "China's railway growth will get the top priority. Our building pace will not slow down, and the investment will not be reduced."

He said that the world's longest single high-speed rail, linking Beijing and Shanghai, China's two most important cities, will go into official operation late this month, just prior to the 90 anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The 1,318-km project, at a cost of 220 billion yuan, will see 90 trains run on it daily, with 63 speeding at 300 kilometers per hour, and 27 running at 250kph. The 300kph train will finish the trip in just 4 hours and 48 minutes, as compared to current at least 10 hours.

Hu said the initial planned speed of 350 kph was abandoned because his ministry wants to have maximum operational safety. Economic efficiency also factors in because the ministry said 300 kph would conserve up to 20 percent of energy.

Tickets on the new bullet trains will cost from 410 to 1,750 yuan, with the majority commonplace seats on the 350 kph train charging 555 yuan.

Hu said that his ministry is taking every measure to ensure the fast line's safety. Maintenance workers will spend four hours checking the tracks every night. Two passenger-free trains will travel the line every morning to conduct safety checks before trains with passengers get the green light.

Also, the railway has erected a protective fence at 2.85 meters high, to prevent people or large animals getting onto the tracks. A patrol guard will be stationed every kilometer along the line to look for safety hazards.

For the next five years, 30,000 kilometers of new railway lines will come into operation, 87.5 percent more than for the 2006-2010 period.

Yu Bangli, chief economist with the railways ministry, said that although financing for railways, like that for other industries, is subject to the impact of the macro-economic environment, "funds for railways can be guaranteed".

The ministry said in January that China's high-speed rail network had reached 8,358 km at the end of 2010 and is expected to exceed 13,000 km by 2012 and 16,000 km by 2020.

By People's Daily Online
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