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New rail plan to drive China’s economy

Updated: Jun 30,2016 3:04 PM

The medium- and long-term railway network plan, which was approved during the State Council executive meeting on June 29, will further improve China’s overall railway construction, and promote economic development.

In recent decades, China’s rail network plan had many achievements, including the construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway and Beijing-Tianjin inter-city railway. At present, China has the largest railway traffic volume in the world.

The new plan will address current deficiencies faced by China’s railway, such as the relatively low rate of railway coverage, incomplete layout, and underdeveloped railway in the central and western regions.

According to the plan, the high-speed rail network should be improved by eight vertical rail lines linking north and south, and eight horizontal lines connecting east to west, and adjacent large- and medium-sized cities should be connected by lines ranging from 1 to 4 hours.

In addition, the plan highlights the integrated construction of railway, highway, waterway, and aviation, with focuses on establishing comprehensive transportation centered on railway stations, and expanding cargo distribution service networks, such as central stations for container transport and terminal distribution.

Those efforts, supplemented by inter-urban railways, will further expand the rail network, said Li Hongchang, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, who added that developing transportation will help promote the optimization and adjustment of regional industries, optimize city layout, and enhance high-end equipment manufacturing.

However, inappropriately high standards for transportation construction should be avoided, warned Sun Chang, a professor at Tongji University. “Local conditions should be taken into consideration, in the underpopulated west, for instance, adopting relatively low-speed railway construction can help long-term investment,” he added.

Further reform on investment and financing, as well as pricing, represented in the plan, remains a crucial support for orderly railway construction, said Li, who added that the participation of private investment, foreign investment and other social capital will help improve the efficiency and benefits of railway construction.