BEIJING, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government plans to invest 650 billion yuan (103.56 billion U.S. dollars) in railway construction this year, nearly equivalent to the amount spent last year.
New railways with a combined length of 5,200 km will go into operation this year as well, Minister of Railways Sheng Guangzu said at a Thursday work meeting.
Although the amount is slightly up from the 630.98 billion yuan spent in 2012, it is significantly down from 2010's record investment of 842.65 billion yuan, data from the ministry showed.
The ministry will diversify financing channels by encouraging local governments, enterprises and private investors to participate in railway construction, Sheng said.
A national railway development fund will be established as an investment platform for social and private capital, the minister said.
To attract private capital, the ministry vowed to offer fair treatment for private railway investors in a guideline issued last May.
By 2015, China will have around 120,000 km of railways in operation, including 18,000 km of high-speed railways and an express railway network totaling 40,000 km in length, according to the 12th five-year plan for railway development.