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New Railways to Aid Quake Reconstruction

An express train between Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu and Dujiangyan City slated to begin construction this month is set to boost reconstruction efforts in the quake-hit region.

Song Yuansheng, deputy chief engineer of the Transportation Planning Institute under China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd, said the train is expected to start operations in May 2010.

Song said the 68-km-long railway will enable Dujiangyan residents to work in Chengdu every day. It will take no more than 30 minutes to travel between the two places.

The Chengdu-Dujiangyan express rail is also one of the first major reconstruction projects in the areas, which were hit by the May 12 quake, Sichuan Party Secretary Liu Qibao said.

Office worker Hu Jian is one of the many Dujiangyan residents looking forward to the new rail.

Hu, 44, drives between his Chengdu office and his apartment in Dujiangyan daily. Since he bought his home two years ago, Hu has been facing traffic jams and has spent nearly 30,000 yuan (US$4,400) traveling to and from work.

"The air in Dujiangyan is very fresh, but it is also very costly for me," he said.

He said he hoped the express train between the two places will change all that.

Sichuan's transport network, which had relied mainly on highways, suffered a major setback when the quake damaged many highways.

"Post-quake reconstruction has to start with the resumption of transportation," Li Sheng, chief of the research institute of modern logistics under the Southwest University of Finance in Chengdu, said.

To that effect, the Ministry of Railways and the Sichuan provincial government agreed in early July to push forward construction of four railways.

The groups aim to start construction of all the railways within the year.

In addition to supporting Sichuan's post-quake reconstruction, the agreement is important to Sichuan's goal of building itself into a transportation hub in western China, Liu said.

On January 10, the two sides signed an agreement to build six new railways.

On completion, Sichuan's annual transportation capacity will grow to 300 million tons of cargo, 10 times the current level. The new lines will boost Sichuan's total rail network by 1,200 km by 2012.

(China Daily October 5, 2008)

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