Guangzhou plans to spend up to 200 billion yuan (HK$188 billion) on a 500km light rail network over the next 10 to 15 years, according to a blueprint released yesterday. It is the first time that the city has outlined its light rail plans in such detail. Under the scheme, the network would extend beyond Guangzhou's borders to other cities including Nanhai, Shunde, Foshan and Jiangmen in the western delta and Dongguan in the east. It will not connect to Hong Kong or Shenzhen. The blueprint was issued by the Guangzhou Subway Company and the Guangzhou Communications Planning Research Institute, a think-tank under the municipal planning bureau. According to officials at Guangzhou Subway, which is responsible for building and running the city's evolving rail network, the 200 billion yuan figure is a high-end, long-term estimate based on underground construction costs of 400 million yuan per kilometre. Guangzhou mayor and party secretary Lin Shusen recently said that the city would spend 40-50 billion yuan to build 200-250km of light-rail lines over the next five years. He has repeatedly said his city will overtake Hong Kong and resume its historical position as southern China's greatest commercial and cultural centre. Research institute head Zhou Helong said that the plan would be resubmitted to the municipal government for final approval next month after a two-week public consultation. The central government also needs to approve each portion of the project. Guangzhou Subway general manager Lu Guanglin said that 60 per cent of the network's cost would be financed by the government and land sales, with bank loans covering the rest. Guangzhou has just one operational subway line, with two more under construction. A light-rail link to its new international airport is scheduled for completion late next year. The plans issued yesterday call for 12 or 13 more lines. These will reduce travel times from the city centre to Guangzhou's most distant outskirts by more than half, to just 30 minutes. Travel between Guangzhou and other cities in the Pearl River Delta will be cut to about an hour. Last week, Guangzhou announced plans to invest 30 billion yuan over three years in basic infrastructure at Nansha, where the city will relocate its heavy industries and build a new port. The local branches of China Development Bank and China Construction Bank will lend 62 billion yuan to develop Nansha over a five-year period.