Integration is key to future of transport development
Toh Han Shih
For the 12th Five-Year Plan to 2015, transport infrastructure construction will remain a major priority for the national authorities although the government's stimulus ends today.
According to the Transport Ministry, the country will now shift from simply building more transport systems towards integrating different modes of transport such as roads, rail, ports and airports.
'China's transport systems must continue to have strong growth, even more than before, but in a realistic manner,' said Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang.
The nation has seen a spurt in infrastructure construction in the past two years, following the launch of the 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.7 trillion) stimulus package in 2008 to combat the effect of the global financial crisis.
Of the total stimulus, as much as 1.2 trillion yuan was earmarked for transport infrastructure.
The Transport Ministry said on its website: 'The strategic importance of the transport sector remains unchanged. The support by the Chinese government at all levels for transport remains strong. The next five years remains an important strategic period for transport development.'
A 'suitable scale and pace' of transport infrastructure construction will be maintained, said the ministry.
By 2015, the nation's expressway network should be completed and the country should have 130,000 kilometres of riverways suitable for high-grade shipping. It now stands at 124,000 kilometres.
Spending on highway construction was 1 trillion yuan in the first 10 months of this year and is expected to reach 1.2 trillion yuan for the whole of this year, said JP Morgan analyst Karen Li.
Highway spending next year will equal this year's, but decrease in 2012, said Li.
According to the Transport Ministry, fixed asset investment in highways and waterways is expected to be 1.28 trillion yuan for the whole of this year, 14.5 per cent more than 2009.
'The structural transformation of China's transport system must be accelerated. For the 12th Five Year Plan, it is very important to change the direction of development,' said the ministry. From 2011 to 2015, 100 intermodal transport hubs linking railway with other modes of transport like highways will be built, including 36 major intermodal transport hubs in cities, said the ministry.
Last year, the Transport Ministry decided the country's future transport development must switch from developing transport modes individually towards creating multimodal transport networks where different transport systems interconnect.
As a result of the government's ambitious plans for railways, many stations are being constructed and some of these will be intermodal hubs, said Dennis Li, vice-president of the International Chinese Transportation Professionals Association.
A Shanghai analyst said: 'A lot of different transport networks are not well connected, The government wants to change this. There aren't many intermodal transport hubs in China.'
In the last five years, 250 billion yuan has been invested in aviation infrastructure, equivalent to the amount invested in the previous 25 years. The number of mainland airports increased by 35 to 176 in the same period.
Over the past five years, mainland roads have increased by 639,000 kilometres to 3.98 million kilometres, while 661 deepwater berths with throughput capacity of 3 billion tonnes were built, increasing the total to 1,774 deepwater berths with 5.5 billion tonnes in throughput capacity, the Transport Ministry said.