TWO international links between China and Central Asia are to be developed as part of a five-year programme which will see 100bn yuan invested by 2005. Minister of Railways Fu Zhihuan says over 3000 km will be added to the existing 14860route-km in western China, much of which will be upgraded.

Details of the package were unveiled at the Ninth National People’s Congress on March 5, when the ministry agreed to expedite planning and approval of the main projects over the next six months.

The two links will help to open up the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China. They will also relieve the existing Urumqi - Druzhba - Aktogay route, where landbridge traffic has been growing rapidly. One would run from the terminus of the recently-completed South Xinjiang Railway at Kashi to Andizhan in Uzbekistan via Irkeshtam and Osh in Kyrgyzstan (map RG 8.98 p500). The other would diverge from the Druzhba line near Kuytun and run via Jinghe, Yining and Korgos to Almaty in southern Kazakhstan.

Other priorities identified by Fu include the 1129 km east-west corridor between Xi’an and Nanjing and the upgrading of the north-south route from Luoyang to Zhanjiang which is already under way (RG 9.98 p611). Double-tracking of the Baoji - Lanzhou line will also be accelerated.

  • Heibei province has announced plans to build 1900 km of new line over the next 10 years at a cost of 26bn yuan, opening up the area west of the Taihang Shan mountains. This year will see opening of the 466 km route from Shenmu to the Beijing - Kowloon line at Suning, with the 166 km from Suning to the port of Huanghua following by 2002.