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Huge Rail Investment Announced

Between now and 2010 China will invest 1.5 trillion (US$190 billion) to increase the nation's rail network to over 90,000 kilometers.  


"We'll invest 300 billion yuan (US$38 billion) in railway construction next year," Li Guoyong, transportation director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said Wednesday at the China Railway Financing Forum.


The investment was described by Li as "the biggest in China's history" and would increase the size of the country's rail network by almost 20 percent.


The 1.5 trillion yuan (US$190 billion) investment includes 250 billion yuan (US$31.6 billion) for rolling stock purchase, over 600 billion yuan (US$76 billion) for track and more than 625 billion yuan (US$79 billion) for civil engineering.


China's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) states that solving hardware problems like the network and machinery were the core issues for the development of the nation's railways.


"The transportation turnover rate for railways will double with the completion of main trunk lines in 2010," said Long Hua, an analyst from Industrial Securities Co. "The railway industry's boom is expected to last over 10 years."


Slow and relatively poor-quality services and busy trunk lines remain the major problems confronting China's rail industry. A lack of services will remain a problem in 2010 but the Ministry of Railways expects this to be solved by 2015.


"We plan to set up an inter-city passenger transportation express which will reach a speed of at least 200 kilometers per hour," said Li.


The Chinese government plans to extend the country's expressway network by 85,000 kilometers in the next 30 years at an estimated cost of two trillion yuan (US$250 billion), under a plan drawn up by the Ministry of Communications.


The expressway network plan, accounting for regional, urban and rural development and population distribution, shows the government will spend 390 billion yuan in eastern China, 520 billion yuan in central areas, and 1.09 trillion yuan in western China.


The plan shows the total length of the network will reach 42,000 kilometers by the end of 2007, and 50,000 to 55,000 kilometers by 2010.


The country's road network strategy aims to integrate expressways and local roads to meet transport needs and support economic growth.


The expressway network will connect all provincial capitals and cities of at least 500,000 people by the end of 2010, and provide high-speed links between major economic hubs such as the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Sea Rim area.


Economic growth has resulted in increasing traffic volumes, with the number of motor vehicles rising by 15 to 30 percent annually, with a 30-fold increase in private vehicle ownership from 1985 to 2004.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily November 23, 2006)

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