WORK BEGAN on February 24 on the construction of the 975 km Taiyuan - Zhongwei line in northern China.

Due for completion by 2010 at a cost of 30bn yuan, the line will shorten the route from Beijing to Zhongwei, the capital of the Ningxia region (RG 8.05 p479). It will also relieve the Longhai line between Lianyungan and Lanzhou, which is swamped with traffic to and from Urumqi and the Alatau Pass gateway to Kazakhstan.

Partially double-track, the new line is designed to handle up to 60 million tonnes of freight per year, with much of it destined for the port of Qingdao. The route will also carry up to 40 passenger trains per day.