Beijing boosts rail spending to 5tr yuan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 December, 2008, 12:00am

The mainland is increasing rail investments to 5 trillion yuan (HK$5.66 trillion) by 2020 in an ambitious plan to spur domestic demand and link regions closer geographically.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Railways has confirmed a Xinhua report quoting deputy minister Lu Dongfu as saying that the plan would add 41,000km to the country's maze of railway networks.

The spending would help drive the locomotive of economic growth, alleviate transport bottlenecks and create at least 6 million jobs, Mr Lu had said.

The plan, extended from 700 billion yuan earmarked for new lines next year, marks the country's intensified effort to boost domestic demand to reduce reliance on an export-based economy.

Rail infrastructure is a priority aspect of Beijing's 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus package for the next two years, as it seeks to revive flagging consumer spending by generating more jobs for the vast workforce, particularly those from rural areas.

New rail corridors would be built bringing major cities closer, and others would be dedicated to transporting coal in inland regions such as Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, the report said.

Rail is the most important mode of mass transport during the Lunar New Year, when millions of migrant workers return to their homes in the countryside from the south.

Ministry spokeswoman Wang Yongping said a highlight of the investment was the 1,318km Beijing-Shanghai high-speed link, which would cost up to 200 billion yuan.

Ms Wang said the project was expected to create 120,000 jobs during the construction stage from April next year to 2011. The high-speed line would leave every five minutes and a single trip between the capital and Shanghai would take four hours.

She said the ministry was seeking financing from social security funds and insurers, in addition to conventional means such as treasury bill issues and direct investment by governments.

For instance, a consortium of four mainland insurers including Ping An Insurance (Group) has bought 13.93 per cent of the company that will own and run the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed route.

The MTR Corp has direct investments in subway projects in Shenzhen and Shenyang.

Yesterday marked the start of construction of the 19.69 billion yuan rail project linking Guangzhou and Shenzhen international airport through Dongguan.

The 87km link will be completed in 2011. It will serve as a key rail artery in the Pearl River Delta.

Additional reporting by Martin Zhou in Beijing


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