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|Friday, October 12, 2001, updated at 13:22(GMT+8)|
Railway Plan to Get West on MoveChina will invest 127 billion yuan£šUS$15 billion £© on railway construction in its western regions during the next five years in an bid to improve communications and make the area more attractive to business, according to today's China Daily.
About half the investment will go to extending the network of the southwest region which has been starved of investment for several decades in comparison with the wealthier coastal provinces.
Wang Linshu, general engineer at the Ministry of Railways, said the western regions would have 25,000 kilometres of railways by the year 2005.
A total of 11,400 kilometres would be in the southwest, which includes Yunnan, Qinghai, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, the Guangxi Zhuang and Tibet autonomous regions and Chongqing Municipality.
In the past decade, investment in railway construction in Southwest China has accounted for more than 30 per cent of the national total.
There were 10,000 kilometres of railways in operation in the southwest at the end of last year, accounting for 15 per cent of the nation's total.
The length of electrified railways in Southwest China has now reached 4,600 kilometres, double the average level of the country.
The ministry had earlier revealed that China plans to build a railway linking Yunnan Province with Singapore to expose the southwest region further to the seaports of Southeast Asia.
The western parts of China such as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Gansu Province will also enjoy the benefit of this policy, official documents have revealed.
The government has decided to build the long-waited railway linking the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Central Asian countries. It will be the second railway along the route after the first one was finished and put into operation in 1990.
The Ministry of Railways hopes the railway can help promote economic development in the vast western regions.
The ministry plans to control 27,500 kilometres of railway track in the western region, nearly 4,000 kilometres longer than that at the end of 2000.
Ministry sources said the new railways under construction in western China will enjoy better technical support, and all the new rails are designed to enable trains to travel at higher speeds.
In the forthcoming fourth round of nationwide railway improvements, scheduled to be up and running on October 21, many artery railroads in the western region will be further accelerated.
Trains linking the west and east will have their travel times cut by several hours as a result. Travelling times within the western provinces and autonomous regions will also be greatly reduced.
Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou, Qinghai and Yunnan provinces, the Tibet, Xinjiang Uygur, Ningxia Hui, Guangxi Zhuang and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions and Chongqing Municipality are defined as part of western China by the government.
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