While work continues in Britain examining the case for building a new high- speed rail line from London to the West Midlands and North—which may be opened by 2025—China has announced plans to build 35 high-speed routes by 2012.
The China Daily newspaper quoted Zheng Jian, chief planner with the railway ministry, saying that around 13,000 kilometres of high-speed railways, capable of handling trains at between 200 and 350 kilometres/hour, could be completed and put into service by 2012. The construction of an additional 5,000-kilometres of high-speed railways will begin soon.
The newspaper said China’s railways were among the main beneficiaries of the government’s 4-trillion-yuan (£350 billion) stimulus package.
New stations will go along with the new lines. By 2020, more than a thousand will be built or re-constructed. About 800 will be put into use by 2012, said the rail ministry.
At least five routes will be able to accommodate trains traveling at speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph), Zheng said. So far, China has built 185 km of track capable of handling 350 km/h trains, including the link between Beijing and Tianjin, which opened last August ahead of the Olympic Games.
The five lines include three north-south routes: Beijing-Shanghai; Beijing-Guangzhou (Hong Kong); and Beijing-Harbin (Dalian). The two east-west high-speed lines are Xuzhou-Lanzhou and Shanghai-Kunming.
The five lines along with three other lines with a designed speed of between 200 and 350 km/h, will become the trunk lines of China’s future high-speed passenger rail network.
The Beijing-Shanghai rail line may end up being the fastest — the railway ministry said in a news release that the trip will take four hours, which means trains will need to exceed 350 km/h.
• Earlier this month, Professor Andrew McNaighton, chief engineer for the company examining the case for a new north-south high-speed line in Britain, had said the3 route would be planned to allow trains to operate at up to 400 km/h (250 mph).