CHINA: October 21 saw the introduction of Chinese Railways’ 2001-02 national timetable, implementing a further network- wide increase in train speeds.

Vice- Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun announced that passenger train speeds would be raised from 120 to 140 and 140 to 160 km/h, following the completion of upgrading work on 4 400 route-km. Fares would remain unchanged, he said, apart from selected premium services.

The new timetable reflects completion of 25 kV electrification in the Harbin – Shenyang – Dalian corridor, where SS4- hauled passenger trains will run at 160 km/h and 120 km/h freight trains will be increased from 4 000 to 5 000 tonnes. On the main line to the south, September saw completion of electrification between Wuchang and Guangzhou.

This has allowed the Beijing – Guangzhou journey time to be cut to 20 h, and Beijing – Shenzhen to under 24 h. CR has now started work on wiring the 406 km dedicated passenger line between Qinhuangdao and Shenyang, which is due for completion by the end of 2002. This route has been designed for 200 km/h.

On October 15 MoR Chief Engineer Wan Lingshu confirmed plans to invest 127m yuan on the railways of western China over the next five years. Major projects include double-tracking from Baoji to Lanzhou and Zhouzhou to Liupanshui, completion of the Xi’an – Hefei section of the Xi’an – Nanjing line, and the start of work on the link to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Minister of Railways Fu Zhihuan announced on November 7 that the formation had been completed for a 147 km section of the Golmud – Lhasa line, between Gormo and Wangkun in Qinghai. The government has spent 770m yuan since work began on June 29, and Fu expects tracklaying on the 1 142 km route to start next year.