CONSTRUCTION of Chinese Railways' 904 km Passenger Dedicated Line between Harbin and Dalian formally began on August 28, and is expected to take 5½ years to complete.

According to Minister of Railways Li Zhijun, the line is intended to relieve the existing railway between Dalian, Shenyang and Harbin, which is handling growing volumes of freight traffic. The double-track electrified line will cost around 92bn yuan to build. It has been designed for 350 km/h operation, although trains are initially expected to run at 200 km/h.

The new line is being built jointly by the ministry and the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, which will be responsible for land acquisition. The four parties formed a joint-venture project company on August 10 to manage the work. The route is projected to carry 37 million passengers/year by 2020, rising to 51 million in 2030, requiring the operation of 165 trains/day each way.

Work is expected to begin later this year on a new double-track line between Lanzhou and Chongqing, via Longnan, Guangyuan and Nanchong. The governor of Gansu province Xu Shouseng announced on August 29 that the province is forming a special-purpose company to fund the 800 km route; the 55·5bn yuan cost will be shared by Gansu, Sichuan and the Ministry of Railways.

On September 6 work started on the upgrading of the 834 km route between Xining and Golmud, which forms the first stage of the line to Tibet. This was opened in 1984 as a single-track line, although 475 km has since been doubled. The current project will see the line double-tracked and electrified throughout over the next five years, raising the line speed to 160 km/h and providing capacity for 50 million tonnes of freight per year.

Last month also saw the start of tracklaying work on the 115 km Beijing – Tianjin high speed line, which is due to be completed by August 2008. CR also awarded a €50m contract to Balfour Beatty Rail for design and installation of overhead electrification equipment on the 968 km Wuhan – Guangzhou PDL (RG 8.07 p481).