The State Council's recent approval of 882 billion yuan (HK$1 trillion) worth of rail projects in 22 mainland cities has sealed China's place as the world's biggest rail market. The aggressive spending has benefited mainland and foreign firms such as China Railway Group and Siemens. The approval, reported in the People's Daily, dwarfs the previous 140 billion yuan spent between 1995 and last year. Only 10 mainland cities have operational city rail lines with a total length of 835.5 kilometres. Next year, the length of the mainland's city lines will increase to 1,500 kilometres, with demand for 6,000 rail cars worth 36 billion yuan, according to the People's Daily. The number of cities that meet the government's criteria for having a rail system could expand to 50 in the near future. Cities must have a population of more than three million, a gross domestic product of more than 100 billion yuan and fiscal revenue of more than 10 billion yuan, according to the National Development and Reform Commission. By 2015, China would likely have more than 3,000 kilometres of railways in cities with total investment exceeding one trillion yuan, said Sun Ning, a researcher at the Scientific Academy of Chinese Railway. Siemens had signed deals to supply signalling and control systems to the Chongqing system and propulsion equipment to the line in Suzhou, as well as propulsion and braking systems for a line in Hangzhou, it said. These contracts were part of deals totalling two billion yuan that Siemens signed in the past few days. 'In the worldwide recession, China has been an anchor for the global economy by making massive investments in sustainable infrastructure,' said Peter Loscher, Siemens president and chief executive. Last month, China Railway won contracts to build rail systems in Beijing, Chengdu and Dalian.