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Railways Heading West

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China is to extend railways to more than 50,000 kilometers in its vast western regions by 2020, a senior railway official said Monday.

More investment will be made in railway construction in the west regions in the coming years to serve local economic and social development, said Yan Hexiang, deputy director of the development planning department of the Ministry of Railways.

The ministry will step up building of major railways under construction and push construction of more projects such as the Chengdu-Guiyang railway, Chongqing-Guiyang railway and Kunming-Nanning railway to start at an early date, Yan told a meeting in western China.

China launched the "West Development Strategy" in January 2000 to help underdeveloped western regions catch up with the more prosperous eastern regions.

The western regions comprise 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipality, which have a combined population of about 370 million and account for 71.4 percent of the country's total land area.

(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2009)