BEIJING, Nov. 27 -- The Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR) on Thursday increased the mileage of passenger-dedicated lines planned to be in service by 2020 to 16,000 km in a revised Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan.
According to the revised plan, announced officially on Thursday, China plans to have more than 120,000 km of rail lines by 2020, about 60 percent of which are to be electrified.
This is an increase on a 2004 plan for about 100,000 km of railways and 12,000 km passenger-dedicated lines by 2020. The old plan had only 50 percent of the country's railways electrified.
At a press conference held to announce the plan, MOR vice minister Lu Dongfu said the plan was approved by the State Council, or the Cabinet, on Oct. 31.
"The 16,000-km express passenger rail network (capable of speeds of more than 200 km/hour) is designed to link provincial cities with a population of more than 500,000. The network will significantly cut journey times," Lu said.
"Construction of all railway projects in the revised Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan will need a total investment of some 5 trillion yuan (732 billion U.S. dollars)," Lu said.
This revised Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan covers the years 2004-2020, and so includes money already spent and lines already built.
In addition some of the funding for the Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan money will come from the 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus package announced earlier this month (which covers the period 2009-2010), but the vice minister did not elaborate on which projects they were or how much money was involved.
New lines revealed in the plan, and not part of the economic stimulus package, include a line in Liaoning Province linking Shenyang to Dandong, and a line in Henan Province linking Zhengzhou (the provincial capital) and Luoyang.
"The revised plan is set to modernize the network and help the economy achieve sound and rapid development," said Lu.
"Railway has been the weakest chain in the country's infrastructure with insufficient capacity. Railway transportation has long lagged behind the economic development," Lu said.
China's laggard railway system has been having a hard time keeping up with the huge mobility needs and booming economy, Yang said. With many trains running near or above capacity, the country's rail network is strained, but the demands on it are increasing.
By the end of this year, Lu said China would have over 79,000-km rail lines in operation, about 6,000 km more than that at the end of 2003.
China currently only has one high-speed rail line in operation - the Beijing-Tianjin link, which is 120 km in length.