China has approved a new mid-and-long term national rail plan, during the State Council meeting on June 29. According to the new plan, China’s railway network will reach a total of 150,000 km by 2020, of which about 30,000 km will be high-speed railway. Key objectives include the expansion of the high-speed rail network to eight rail lines north to south, and eight lines east to west, the gradual enhancement of inter-city rails to ensure that rail travel between neighboring large- and medium-sized cities will take no more than four hours. Rail construction in central and western areas will also be intensified, in order to achieve a more balanced development among regions.
The new railway national plan is an upgrade of the previous one approved in 2008, which had as objective to have an operating route length of more than 120,000 km by the year 2020.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) statistics show that in 2015 China’s railway network had an operating route length of 121,000 km, of which 19,000 km were high-speed railway lines. Over the past several years, high-speed railways have been developing rapidly, making transportation between big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai and lower-tier cities much more convenient.
“We should seek innovation in developing China’s railway projects with both social and economic implications in mind, and this new proposal should be planned well in advance with consideration not only given to demand but also financial feasibility,” Premier Li Keqiang said.
He also underlined that China Railway, China’s national railway operator, needs to press ahead with its reform and work hard to build a modern corporate system, financing through various market channels, in order to play a key role in the country’s railway development.