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China to build more high-speed railways

(Xinhua)

08:43, October 03, 2012

BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- China is aiming to build separate passenger and freight networks within its railway system, one of the world's busiest. It may come true on some bustling lines in 2015, when a high-speed passenger transport network is expected to become fully operational.

According to a five-year plan on China's transport system recently approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, China will create a high-speed railway backbone network featuring four east-west lines and four north-south lines by the end of 2015.

The Ministry of Railways told Xinhua that the total milage of high-speed railway will reach some 18,000 km by then.

China's high-speed lines, which should have an average speed of over 200 km per hour, stood at 6,894 km in August, fewer than last year as a speed cut was executed after the Wenzhou accident, according to the ministry.

Railway expert Wang Mengshu said that as new high-speed lines open, transportation capacity will be released from conventional lines, which will gradually turn into freight lines.

"Putting passenger and freight on separate tracks will greatly increase traffic volume," said Wang, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. "The plan indicates that China will continue to develop high-speed trains to address its transportation bottleneck."

The plan is long-awaited as China's high-speed railway development has been set back by the Wenzhou collision last July that left 40 dead.

The crash seriously dented China's enthusiasm for high-speed rail. China halted work on new lines and conducted nationwide safety checks. A total of 54 people, including minister-level officials, were punished following the accident. Local railway bureaus and stations have been ordered to improve train scheduling and management, as well as conduct more intensive work safety training.

A railway ministry report released in July says that signaling and lightning diffusion equipment has been checked and reinforced at more than 1,000 railway stations.

The changes were in response to the two major causes of the Wenzhou accident, management failure and faulty signaling equipment.

"With technical solutions and disciplined operation, China's high-speed railways will be safer," said Huang Qiang, chief researcher at the China Academy of Railway Sciences.

Wang said China should always bear the accident in mind and learn from past mistakes. "This will be highly important in China's further pursuit of technological innovation and advancement."

Wang held that China should persist in the high-speed railway development.

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