The Railway Ministry's website states that at the end of 2002 before Liu Zhijun took over, China had about 72,000 kilometres of operational track. Today, it has about 91,000km, including high-speed lines. The system ranks second in length to the US. Between 2003, when Liu became railways minister, and last year annual spending on China's rail construction increased by 10 times to 700 billion yuan (HK$839 billion) from 69 billion yuan, boosted in part by the stimulus plan to spur the economy after the 2008 global financial crisis.
The old boss
Liu Zhijun was born in 1953 in Ezhou, a town near Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. He started his railways career in the late 1980s in Guangdong, according to China Vitae, a non-profit information provider. Liu then worked his way up to the top post. Even a serious incident involving his brother in 2006 failed to derail Liu's career. His brother, Liu Zhixiang, a former deputy director of the Wuhan Railways Bureau, was convicted of embezzling 40 million yuan and hiring an assassin in an attempt to kill a whistle-blower. He received a suspended death term.
The new boss
Born in Jiangsu province in April 1949, Sheng Guangzu cut his teeth in the Railways Ministry, rising to be vice-minister. In 2000, he was brought into the customs administration during the investigation of one of the country's biggest smuggling and corruption scandals, involving the Yuanhua Group in Xiamen. More than 300 businessmen and officials were arrested in connection with the scandal and several people executed.