ON JANUARY 7 Chinese Minister of Railways Fu Xhihuan announced plans to invest 56bn yuan this year on 15 new and 38 ongoing rail projects. He said that this year should see completion of 1300 km of new line, 750 km of double-tracking and 1000 km of electrification. Several schemes are in addition to the five-year plan announced in mid-1998 (RG 9.98 p611).

Ceremonies were held at Kashi on December 6 to mark the arrival of the 970 km line from Kuerla, completing the 1446 km South Xinjiang Railway. Later that month, CR opened a new Main Station in Hangzhou and the new South Station in Shanghai on December 28 and 29 respectively.

Double-tracking of the mountainous Baoji - Chengdu line was finished on December 26, following the completion of doubling works on the Xiaoshan - Ningbo line in November. Work began last month on the 9·9bn yuan double-tracking of the 487 km Baoji - Lanzhou line in Gansu province, which forms part of the principal east-west landbridge corridor.

Doubling work began on the 70 km Wuhu - Xuancheng line on November 16, and on the same day work started to install the 312m main span of the Wuhu Yangtze bridge, which is due to be completed this month. A related project to double-track the 103 km Hefei - Yuxikou line in Huainan has been started at an estimated cost of 1bn yuan.

November 23 saw the start of electrification work on the 116 km Neijiang - Yibin section of the Neijiang - Kunming line. Due to be completed in two years at a cost of 735m yuan, this is intended to lift freight capacity to 20 million tonnes a year.