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Railway to cut journey time by half
Latest Updated by 2006-08-03 09:40:03
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Work has begun on a new passenger railway linking Beijing with South China's economic powerhouse, Shenzhen in Guangdong Province.

The first trains are expected to start running on the new line by 2010, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, said yesterday.

Total investment in the 2,300-kilometre railway could reach 220 billion yuan (US$27.5 billion), according to the commission.

Running almost parallel to the current north-south Beijing-Guangzhou railway, the new line will also pass provincial capitals Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, and Guangzhou.

The track will be designed for trains to travel at least 200 kilometres per hour, doubling the speed for the current line.

It will allow passengers to travel between Beijing and Shenzhen in about 10 hours, said Song Chaoyi, deputy director of the NDRC's Communications and Transportation Department.

The current rail journey between Beijing and Guangzhou takes 24 hours.

Song said the current railway is overloaded with passengers, particularly during peak travel periods such as the Spring Festival, or the National Day and May Day holidays.

There are more than 200 trains running on the current railway every day.

"When the new one is completed, it will help relieve the pressure on the Beijing-Guangzhou railway," he said.

After the new line is built the old one will be devoted to cargo.

Construction on sections of the railway has already started, with workers first beginning to prepare the ground as early as 2004.

However, the NDRC has only now decided to unveil its blueprint for the entire project.

Construction of the 100 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion) Wuhan-Guangzhou section was the first to start in 2004, and work began on the Shenzhen-Guangzhou section at the end of last year.

Construction of the Beijing-Shijiazhuang section was approved early this year, with an investment of 25 billion yuan (US$3.1 billion), but has not started yet.

The NDRC also approved the construction of the 838-kilometre Shijiazhuang-Wuhan section, with an investment of 74.3 billion yuan (US$9.3 billion).

The Ministry of Railways said investment from various channels is encouraged.

"We encourage investors from home and abroad and we think it will be a profitable railway," said a ministry official who identified himself only as Huang.

According to the ministry's initial calculations, the total investment will be retrieved within six years of the line going into use.

Editor: Yan

By: Fu Jing Source: China Daily Website
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