ON MAY 29 Chinese Railways officially inaugurated construction work on the 1129 km east-west trunk line between Nanjing and Xi’an, serving the Yangtze river valley. The line is a key part of the Ministry of Railway’s new strategy to open up corridors to western China (RG 4.00 p202). The intention is to complete the 950 km section from Xi’an to Hefei by 2002, and then extend the line eastwards down the valley to Nanjing.

Three days later, CR began tracklaying on the 370 km Anbian - Meihuashan line, along the border of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. Due for completion by the end of next year, this will form the centre part of an 847 km north-south corridor between Neijiang and Kunming, relieving the existing Chengdu - Kunming main line.

H Inauguration ceremonies were held on April 19 for the 266 km Handan - Yancheng line, linking Jinan to the Beijing - Kowloon line. Construction began in November 1996, and trains began running in 1999 (RG 5.99 p262). n