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Construction Work Starts on China's Lanzhou-Chongqing Railway

Work on a major railway connecting Lanzhou City, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, with the southwestern city of Chongqing, began on Friday.

The 820km, double-line electrified railway, co-invested by the Railway Ministry, Gansu and Sichuan provinces and Chongqing municipality, is expected to open to traffic in 2014.

The railway will cut the distance on the route from 1,466km to 820km and the travel time from 22 hours to 6 and a half.

Fares will fall, too, to about two-thirds of the past, according to forecasts by rail authorities.

Trains are expected to run at 160km per hour, with a daily capacity of 50 trains.

The line "is conducive to optimizing the railway layout, improving the transportation quality and promoting the development of western China," Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang told a launch ceremony.

Investors will put 2 billion yuan (US$293 million) into environmental protection, accounting for 2 percent of the total cost, according to China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Ltd.

The May 12 earthquake had a minor effect on the railway. The railway designers used a detour around geologically dangerous areas, said Huang Yanbin, chief designer.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2008)

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