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State Council Approves Key Transport Projects
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The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Monday that the State Council has approved the Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed maglev railway, and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway projects.


A feasibility study on the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev (magnetic levitation) railway is now underway.


Construction of the 174-kilometer maglev railway is expected to start this year. The plan is for the railway to be in full operation before the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.


Regular speeds on the maglev railway will be 450km per hour, but it will be limited to below 200km per hour in the city's downtown areas. When completed, travel time from Shanghai to Hangzhou will be a mere half hour.


At a total cost of 35 billion yuan (about US$4.3 billion), the maglev railway is expected to further beef up links between Shanghai and Hangzhou and boost cooperation among the areas in the booming Yangtze River Delta.


According to the NDRC, high-speed rail technology, rather than maglev technology will be used for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project.


Train speeds on the 1,320km railway will not exceed 350km/h, with average speeds maintaining at about 300km/h.


Speaking during the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) annual plenary session, Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun said that domestically developed technologies will be used for this railway.


Liu added that 140 billion yuan (US$17.5 billion) is required for the project. The ministry will encourage multi-channel fundraising from domestic and overseas investors.


The NDRC confirmed that the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway Co. Ltd will be established to supervise the construction and operations of the railway.


This project is an important part of China's mid- and long-term railway network scheme, which aims to ease the already strained railway transport situation between the country's two largest cities.


According to sources with the Ministry of Railways, China plans to extend its railway length to 100,000 km by 2020. Over 12,000 km of high-speed railways are to be built in the next few years at a total cost of between 2 trillion (US$250 billion) and 2.5 trillion yuan (US$312.5 billion).


(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2006)


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