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Construction of Beijing to Shanghai High-speed Railway Kicks Off
    2008-01-18 15:38:54     CRIENGLISH.com

Construction of the highly-anticipated Beijing to Shanghai Express Railway kicks off on Friday. Upon its completion in 2014, the travel time between the Chinese capital and its economic hub will be reduced from 10 hours to about five hours, doubling the existing annual transport capacity of 160 million passengers.

Our Shanghai correspondent Zhou Jing reports.


The Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway is 1318 kilometers in length, with 21 stations set up along the line. It will run at speed of up to 350 kilometers per hour, which will cut the commute time between Beijing and Shanghai by half. During peak hours, trains will depart every five minutes. In the words of Professor Sun Zhang, a railway expert from Tongji University, taking the express train will be as convenient as taking the metro.

"It's just like taking the subway trains. Passengers don't have to buy tickets in advance, but use IC cards to board the trains. When the express line opens, Chinese will also be able to work in one city and live elsewhere, as many Europeans do."
The project was first proposed in 1994, but was not approved until 2006 because of tight debate over which technology should be used.

Sun Zhang said China has caught the right time to begin this enormous undertaking.

"The years were not wasted. China has been upgrading the speed of its railway in the past decade, and the homegrown train is now able to reach over 300 kilometers per hour off the production line. These are all solid technical preparations for building the country's first high-speed rail system."

And though it will take five years to complete the whole project, the Beijing to Tianjin section will begin operations this June, just in time to serve the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Shanghai to Nanjing section will also be ready before the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

With an estimated total investment of 160 billion yuan, or 21 billion US dollars, the railway, once completed, will facilitate transportation between the two major economic zones of the Bohai Sea Rim and the Yangtze River Delta Region.
Despite the progress made in recent years, according to Professor Sun Zhang, the development of China's railway network is still lagging.

"Last year, only about 8 percent of passengers chose railway as their mode of transportation. In Japan, where the rail system is more accomplished, the rate is 30 percent. That's why the central government has placed more emphasis on the development of the railway, a land-efficient, energy-saving and environmentally friendly method of transport, since the beginning of the 11th Five Year Plan."

So far, China boasts only 80 thousand kilometers of railway lines. By 2020, the total length of tracks is expected to be 120 thousand kilometers, one-tenth of which will be express railway lines.

For China Drive, I'm Zhou Jing. Zhou Jing, CRI News, Shanghai.



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