Chinese expansion continues
CHINESE RAILWAYS has confirmed plans to invest 300bn yuan during 2007 on network extensions and capacity enhancement, as part of the 11th five-year plan which is due to see investment total 1 500bn yuan in 2006-10. Describing the package as 'the biggest in Chinese history' the National Development & Reform Commission's Transport Director Li Guyong said on November 22 that it would expand the national rail network by almost 20% to 90 000 route-km by 2010. Breaking down the plan expenditure, Li said the Ministry of Railways is spending 625bn yuan on civil engineering works, 600bn on railway infrastructure equipment and 250bn on locomotives and rolling stock. On the same day plans were announced for construction by 2009 of a dedicated passenger line between Jiujiang and Nanchang, parallelling the Beijing - Kowloon main line. Designed for 200 km/h, the 131?km line will cut the journey time between the two cities from 90 to 40?min. The 6?2bn yuan cost is to be shared equally between the Ministry of Railways and the Jiangxi provincial government.CR is currently working on preparations for its sixth national timetable speed-up, which is scheduled to take place on April 18. This will see the maximum speed raised to 200?km/h on more than 6 000?route-km, with a further 22 122?km cleared for 120?km/h. Deputy Minister of Railways Hu Yadong said in December that the change would see CR's first 250?km/h trains introduced on the trunk lines from Beijing to Harbin, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as on the upgraded Jinan - Qingdao route. With the timetable change expected to deliver an 18% increase in passenger capacity, CR is planning to launch a further seven long-distance express trains and more than 400 regional express services around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.With a China-Asean free trade zone to be set up in 2010, CR expects to invest more than 50bn yuan on new line construction in the southwestern province of Yunnan, over the next five years. This includes work on three routes designated as part of the Trans-Asian Railway network (RG 12.06 p759). Construction has started on the 142?km Yuxi - Mengzi line leading to the Vietnamese border at Lao Cai, from where DSVN is upgrading its 146?km line to Hanoi. Preparatory works are underway for a 599?km line from Yuxi to Mohan, which will eventually be extended into Laos, and a 366?km line from Dali to Ruli which will provide a link with Myanmar.H Addressing the 28th conference of Asean railway CEOs in Kuala Lumpur on November 27, Malaysian transport minister Chan Kong Choy said the US$1?8bn Singapore - Kunming rail link would be completed by 2015. Royal Railways of Cambodia Director-General Sokhom Pheakavanmony said work on the Poipet - Sisophon link between Thailand and Cambodia would be finished by the end of 2007 or early 2008, and the Asian Development Bank has agreed to fund upgrading of the RCR network. China is funding studies for the 225?km link between Phnom Penh and Loc Ninh on the Vietnamese border, with a view to starting construction of this line and the 145?km Loc Ninh - Ho Chi Minh City route in 2007.