Plan aims for 150,000 km of rail by 2020

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By HUYONGQI and ZHANG YUE

China set forth new­goals on Wed­nes­day for a long-term, more com­pre­hen­sive plan for the coun­try’s rail net­work, in­clud­ing 150,000 kilo­me­ters of rail lines by 2020.

The plan was ap­proved at a State Coun­cil meet­ing that was presided over by Premier Li Ke­qiang.

It en­dorses rail as the coun­try’s key form of trans­porta­tion and the life­line forChina’s econ­omy.

The plan also calls for more bal­anced rail con­struc­tion to in­crease ac­ces­si­bil­ity to more of the coun­try, and it vows to build a com­pre­hen­sive net­work com­bin­ing rail, road, wa­ter and air trans­porta­tion.

“It is still a press­ing task for us to usher in the devel­op­ment of China’s rail­way. It is the life­line for China’s na­tional econ­omy,” Li said.

Com­pared with de­vel­oped coun­tries of a sim­i­lar size, the length of China’s op­er­at­ing rail­ways is still not long enough, the premier said. Rail­way con­struc­tion is im­por­tant for sta­bi­liz­ing eco­nomic growth and struc­tural re­form, es­pe­cially in cen­tral and western China, he added.

By the end of last year, China had 121,000 km of op­er­at­ing rail lines, in­clud­ing 19,000 km of high-speed rail­ways, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

In 2008, the NDRC is­sued a na­tional rail plan that aimed for an op­er­at­ing rail net­work of more than 120,000 km by 2020.

The plan ap­proved on Wed­nes­day is a re­vi­sion of the 2008 plan and tar­gets a net­work of 150,000 km by 2020. Of this, 30,000 km will be high-speed rail.

Key mea­sures in­clude ex­pand­ing the high-speed rail net­work con­nect­ing ma­jor ci­ties and other ur­ban ar­eas to eight rail lines run­ning north to south and eight go­ing east to west.

In­ter­city rail lines will also be en­hanced.

Once the plan is achieved, rail travel be­tween neigh­bor­ing ma­jor and medium-sized ci­ties will take four hours.

The plan also en­vi­sions boost­ing rail con­struc­tion in cen­tral and western China.

Com­pre­hen­sive rail devel­op­ment is vi­tal for China in main­tain­ing sta­ble growth and struc­tural re­form, Li said.

“We should seek in­no­va­tion in de­vel­op­ing China’s rail­way project with both so­cial and eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tion in mind, and this new plan should be planned well in ad­vance with con­sid­er­a­tion not only given to de­mand but also fi­nan­cial fea­si­bil­ity,” Li stressed.

China will spend 800 bil­lion yuan ($120.5 bil­lion) this year on build­ing rail­ways, said from one to Wang Dong­ming, deputy di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Com­pre­hen­sive Trans­porta­tion of the NDRC.

Ex­pand­ing the rail net­work is a form of in­vest­ment in fixed as­sets to prop up slow­ing eco­nomic growth by pro­vid­ing more em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and re­duc­ing lo­gis­tics costs, Wang said.

“The cen­tral govern­ment is to bal­ance re­gional devel­op­ment, and less-de­vel­oped re­gions will ben­e­fit from the new plan with more ac­cess to con­ve­nient rail­ways,” Wang added.

Con­tact the writ­ers at huyongqi@chi­ and zhangyue@chi­nadaily.

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