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Work to Start on High-speed Rail
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Track for the new high-speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai, using the country's own highly advanced technology, will be laid within the year, the Ministry of Railways announced in a press release yesterday.


With preparatory work already underway, the 1,318-kilometer passenger line is expected to begin operation by 2010 when the World Expo will be held in Shanghai, the ministry said.


When operational, it will take just five hours to travel between the two cities. This is nine hours less than the current time.


The existing railway track will be used mainly for freight transport with an estimated one-way transport capacity of at least 130 million tons each year.


The ministry called the high-speed rail link "the most technology-innovative railway with the largest investment" among all the railways to be built before 2020 under the ministry's management.


It's being called China's "first globally advanced high-speed railway."


The ministry wants to localize the production of high-speed locomotive units by adapting advanced technologies of other countries and cooperating with them in design and production.


Through the construction of the railway China aims to build up its own high-speed railway technology system.


The project was first proposed in 1994, but was not approved until earlier this year because of a heated debate over what technology should be used.


The various groups involved finally reached agreement to use high-speed wheel track technology instead of a maglev, which uses a magnetized track allowing the train to travel without friction.


The technology will be "our own technology," according to the ministry's release.


With a designed maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour, the passenger line is expected to alleviate the pressure on the existing Beijing-Shanghai line.


Official statistics show the railway is coping with a railway transport density four times that of the country's current average.


As a result, the overburdened railway has stalled the development of China's two economic engines, the Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Rim. The railway provides links with the two areas.


The new line, linking three municipalities and four provinces, runs almost side by side with the existing railway. Along the line there will be 21 stations.


"The 21 stations will certainly include the three municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, and the two provincial capitals, namely Nanjing in Jiangsu Province and Jinan in Shandong Province," said Li Qiang, information officer with the ministry.


But he refused to disclose where the other stations would be located.


In the first stage high-speed trains will run at a maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour.


"Trains with a speed no less than 200 kilometers per hour can also use the line," Li said.


(China Daily April 4, 2006)


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