INTRO: Chinese Railways’ new line and upgrading plan for 1998-2002 envisages investment reaching a new record level

BY 2002 the Chinese Railways main line network will have smashed through the 70000 route-km barrier, with the construction of more than 5000 km of new line over the next five years. At the same time, substantial investment will be poured into upgrading key sections of the present network, under the ambitious Ninth Five Year Plan announced by Minister of Railways Fu Zhihuan on March 28.

At the heart of the plan is the creation of eight more trunk corridors - four north-south and four east-west. These will open up direct links between different regions and alleviate congestion on existing routes. At the same time, double-tracking and electrification will be continued, and further local railways built to open up parts of the country still lacking rail connections. Total cost of the package is 245bn yuan, a record level of investment over such a short timescale and unprecedented in the history of China’s railways.

Capacity expansion has been a feature of the last few CR plans; the 8th plan covering 1991-95 saw 120bn yuan invested. This added 4356 km of new line, 3848 km of double tracking and 1100 km of electrification.

The 9th plan envisages a further 5340 km of new line, 2580 km of doubling and 4400 km of electrification. The work is to be split into 63 medium or large projects: 31 new lines, 20 doubling and 11 electrification, together with the construction of a new station at Beijing East.

Work is already under way on 29 of the projects, but 34 are completely new. Table I lists the projects due to be completed this year, and Table II the ongoing schemes to be finished during the plan period. Table III gives details of nine schemes which are getting under way during 1998; the other 23 will follow over the course of the plan, including the first part of the Beijing - Shanghai high-speed line in 2000.

In addition to the Ministry of Railways’ national strategy, construction is also pushing ahead on many local railways promoted and operated by the various provincial governments. The total length of China’s local railways already exceeds 18000 km, and this figure is set to break through the 20000 km barrier within the next five years.

North-south routes

Beijing - Shanghai high-speed line. This is without doubt the most high-profile railway under development in China today. As well as boosting technical and operational advances, it will bring Chinese Railways into the world’s select high-speed club. Currently costed at around 100bn yuan, the dedicated passenger route will enable CR to segregate passenger and freight traffic to a much greater extent than before.

The Ministry of Railways has formed a new research task force to develop the detailed project design, with the hope of starting construction before the end of 2000. Further details on p615.

Northeast - Yangtze delta. A 2200 km direct link will be forged between the northeast of China and the rapidly-growing economic hub in the east, including the busy ports and Shanghai. Crossing the Bohai sea by train ferry, the line will relieve the existing routes via Beijing. Major elements include electrification from Harbin to Dalian, the Dalian - Yantai ferry, double-tracking from Yantai to Lancun, and a new line from Xinyi to Changxing, feeding into the recently-built routes on the north side of the Yangtze delta.

Luoyang - Zhanjiang. Completion of the double-tracking between Xiangfan and Shimen started in the 8th plan, will create a high-capacity corridor parallel to the busy Beijing - Guangzhou route. To make better use of this, and feed traffic south from Shimen to Zhanjiang, the Shimen - Changsha line now under construction will be extended to Lengshuitan via Loudi and Shaoyang, and then from Lengshuitan to Yulin via Wuzhou. Total length of new construction is put at 812 km.

This line is also expected to stimulate land development and economic growth in Hunan and Guangxi provinces. An alternative option still under consideration would be to build a double-track route from Changsha to meet the Liuzhou Railway at Lengshuitan, which would reduce the work to 247 km of new line and 417 km of doubling.

Baotou - Xi’an - Ankang - Yangpingguan - Chengdu. This direct route through western China is intended to open up a second main exit from the Shaanxi coalfields directly to the southwest, relieving the lines further east of traffic from Shaanxi, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. This year has already seen the start of work on the link from Shenmu Bei to meet the Baotou - Xi’an line at Yan’an. Completion of the difficult 268 km mountain line from Xi’an to Ankang will complete the missing link, but to meet capacity targets the Ankang - Yangpingguan section requires technical upgrading and Yangpingguan - Chengdu will be double-tracked.

East-west routes

Shenmu - Shuozhou - Huanghua. CR’s second dedicated heavy-haul coal corridor is already under construction. Linking the Shenmu Bei coalfield with a new port on the Bohai Sea, it will have a total length of 810 km. The first 270 km from Shenmu to meet the existing network at Shuozhou was opened to coal traffic on July 1 1996, but work on the remaining section to Huanghua did not begin until the following year. The line is being built as a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways, mining consortium Shenmu Group Co Ltd and the provinces of Shanxi and Hebei. The 421 km from Shenchi to Suning will be completed by 2000, with the last 166 km to Huanghua following in 2002 to coincide with completion of the harbour.

Zhuzhou - Luipanshi. This corridor will serve the growing demand for rail capacity between the eastern provinces and southwest China, and help promote economic growth in the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan. It will also improve local and long-distance links to the municipality of Chongqing. The principal task involves double-tracking 873 km of the existing railway between Zhuzhou in Hunan province and Lipanshui in Guizhou. Together with the recently-completed doubling of the Zhuzhou - Hangzhou line and the upgraded Shanghai - Hangzhou line, this will complete a high-capacity corridor from the southwest to the east coast and Yangtze delta. Work is expected to get under way this year, for completion in 2002.

Xi’an - Nanjing. Construction of a new 1129 km corridor along the Yangtze valley will provide an additional outlet for coal from the north of Shaanxi province to reach the east and southeast of the country. The strategic route will also provide some relief for the existing Lanzhou - Lianyungan line which parallels it to the north. To be built in phases, the line will start from the Xinfengzhen marshalling yard at Xi’an Junction, passing through Shangzhou, Nanyang, Xingyang, Hengchuan, Liu’an and Hefei. The eastern terminus will be at the Yongning marshalling yard near Nanjing Junction.

Sichuan - Chongqing. As part of the economic development strategy for the southwestern provinces, notably eastern Sichuan and the Chongqing area, the Ministry of Railways has identified the need for a direct link between the southern central provinces and eastern China. The five year plan includes a commitment in principle to build new lines from Chongqing to Huaihua and Wanxian to Zhicheng, although the actual alignments for these routes have not yet been determined.

International links

The Ministry of Railways is also looking to improve international rail links to promote foreign trade and enhance the existing landbridge corridors. Studies are already under way into the feasibility of building two more international links over the next few years.

Kashi - Osh - Andizhan. This 850 km route would provide a direct connection to the Central Asian republics of Kirgizistan and Uzbekistan, as a branch of the so-called Grand Asia-Europe Landbridge which runs via the Kazakhstan border station at Druzhba. Starting from the end of the South Xinjiang railway now under construction to Kashi, the line would cross the Tyan-Shan mountains to Kirgizi city of Osh and then to Andizhan in western Uzbekistan. The Chinese section from Kashi to the border station at Irkeshtam would be around 215 km (RG 8.97 p500).

Kunming - Singapore. Chinese Railways is an strong supporter of the proposed Asean trunk line which would link China to the rapidly-developing countries of southeast Asia. The project is seen as having a great strategic significance in strengthening economic ties and friendly exchanges, following on from the successful restoration of Nanning - Hanoi rail services across the Friendship Pass in February 1996. It would also reinforce the opening up to the outside world of southwestern China, and spur much-needed economic growth in western Yunnan. o

CAPTION: Amongst the locally-developed equipment to speed the Chinese trunk line programme is this long-span machine for assembling prestressed concrete bridge segments

CAPTION: Mechanised tracklaying is helping to open up new rail corridors into the mountainous southwest provinces, where the government is looking to stimulate economic growth

CAPTION: The twin 18·4 km Qinling tunnels on the Xi’an - Ankang line will be the longest in China, rising from 871 m above sea level at the northern portal to 1026 m at the south end. One bore is being dug using drill-and-blast techniques, but the second is being bored with two 8·8m diameter TBMs supplied by Wirth of Germany

Chinese Railways 9th plan in detail

I. Projects to be completed during 1998

Key Project Length km Timescale

1 Beijing West station - 1991-98

2 Nanning - Kunming new line 898 1990-98

3 Daxian - Chengdu new line 353 1992-98

4 Jinhua - Wenzhou new line 251 1992-98

5 Guangtong - Dali new line 206 1991-98

6 Shimen - Changsha new line 263 1993-98

7 Xuzhou - Lianyungang double-tracking 213 1984-98

8 Guizhou - Zhuzhou electrification 902 1979-98

9 Beijing - Zhengzhou electrification 694 1992-98

10 Shizuishan - Lanzhou electrification 565 1994-98

II. Projects under way for completion by 2002

Key Project Length km Timescale

11 Qianjiang No 2 bridge (Hangzhou) - 1988-2000

12 Xi’an - Ankang new line 268 1995-2001

13 Shenchi - Suning new line 421 1997-2000

14 Suning - Huanghua Harbour new line 166 1997-2002

15 Kuerla - Kashi new line 975 1996-99

16 Yangpingguan - Chengdu double-tracking 396 1992-2000

17 Wuhan - Guangzhou electrification 911 1996-2000

18 Handan - Jinan new line 232 1996-2000

19 Daxian - Wanxian new line 160 1997-2000

20 Hengfeng - Nanping new line 257 1993-99

21 Luipanshi - Baiguo new line 121 1997-2001

22 Baotou - Shizuishan double-tracking 401 1993-99

23 Xiangfan - Shimen double-tracking 351 1993-99

24 Wuhu Yangtze river bridge 10·6 1997-2000

25 Xiaoshan - Ningbo double-tracking 144 1966-99

26 Litang - Zhanjiang double-tracking 321 1997-99

27 Xinxiang - Heze double-tracking 168 1997-2000

28 Harbin - Dalian electrification 946 1994-2000

29 Chengdu - Kunming electrification 1100 1993-2000

30 Chongqing - Daxian electrification 239 1993-99

III. New projects starting this year

Key Project Budget Length Timescale m yuan km

31 Beijing - Beijing East double-tracking 170 4 1998

32 Anbian - Meihuashan new line 1 000 370 1998-2001

33 Loudi - Luipanshi double-tracking 1 000 873 1998-2002

34 Meizhou - Kanshi new line 1 200 152 1998-2000

35 Shenmu - Yan’an North new line 1 530 392 1998-2001

36 Xinyi - Changxing new line 1 100 642 1998-2002

37 Zhanjiang - Hai’an new line and Qiongzhou Strait train ferry 1 150 137 1998-2001

38 Litang - Nanning capacity enhancement 200 120 1998

39 Yangpingguan - Ankang capacity enhancement 200 357 1998-2001

IV. 9th plan projects to be started after 1998

Key Project Length km

40 Xi’an - Nanjing new line 1129

41 Qinhuangdao - Shenyang passenger line 422

42 Loudi - Lengshuitan new line 247

43 Bohai Sea train ferry link -

44 Wuhan - Jingmen new line 173

45 Beijing - Shanghai high-speed line 1307

46 Wuhu - Anqing new line 237

47 Shexian - Yangquan new line (part) 48

48 Suining - Chongqing new line 147

49 Changcun - Shexian capacity enhancement 75

50 Lancun - Yantai double-tracking 187

51 Wuhan - Ankang capacity enhancement 702

52 Yanzhou - Shijiusuo double-tracking 440

53 Xi’an - Houma capacity enhancement 310

54 Xinzhou - Ningwu double-tracking 142

55 Xinxiang - Yueshan electrification 76

56 Fuzhou - Nanping electrification 186

57 Zhanyi - Hongguo electrification 142

58 Neijiang - Yibin electrification 119

59 Lengshuitan - Yulin new line 565

60 Lengshuitan - Liuzhou double-tracking 417

61 Chongqing - Huaihua new line 350

62 Wanxian - Zhicheng new line 180

Key: Black = new lines, Blue = capacity expansion, Red = electrification

Railway Gazette International would like to thank Yin Zhenyuan, Director of the Foreign Affairs Office at the China Academy of Railway Sciences, for assistance with the compilation of information for this article