China’s state-run railway operator has released its major development targets for the year ahead, promising to boost investment, expand the network and increase the number of scheduled trains.
To help achieve its targets, it has been assigned a budget of 800 billion yuan ($115 billion) by the central government, the same as in 2016, according to statement released after China Railway Corp’s (CRC) work conference on Jan 3.
China aims to spend 3.5 trillion yuan on building railways during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), a vice-minister of transport said on Dec 29, 2016.
Railways will generate gross revenue of 911.6 billion yuan and deliver over three billion passengers and 2.75 billion tonnes of cargo, CRC predicted.
This year, the country will add 2,100 km of track and electrify 4,000 km of railways, CRC added.
By the end of 2016, China had a 124,000 km railway network, featuring the world’s largest high-speed rail network of more than 20,000 km. More than half of the 2.7-billion passenger trips were made on bullet trains.
While the vast network has enhanced connectivity in large swathes of the country, construction lags behind in the less developed western regions. The government wants to address this gap.
Much of this year’s construction projects will happen in China’s central and western regions, to support the wider poverty-relief campaign, CRC said.
CRC said it would also continue to improve its China-Europe freight train service, and overseas railroad projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The transcontinental cargo link, or “China Railway Express,” connects East and Central Asia with Europe. Last year, 1,702 westbound trains left China, a 109 percent year-on-year increase, CRC said.