CHINA: Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun attended a ceremony at Bengbu in Anhui Province on November 15 where a machine laid the final rails to complete tracklaying on the 1 318 km Beijing - Shanghai high speed line.

The People's Daily Online reports that the scheduled 2012 opening has been brought forward to October 2011, in time for the mass movement of people which occurs during Chinese New Year celebrations.

The route is designed for service speeds of 380 km/h, cutting the Beijing South - Shanghai Hongqiao travel time to 4 h from a current fastest trip of 10 h. There will be 21 stations serving cities including Tianjin, Jinan, Nanjing and Suzhou.

Main works on the 221bn yuan project had begun from 40 sites in April 2008, following a formal ceremony on January 18. China Railway Construction Corp and China Railway Group were each awarded two major construction contracts, with smaller lots allocated to Sinohydro Corp and China Communications Construction Co. Type II slab track is used on the route, with Vossloh rail fastenings.