The first electric railway in Northeast China, extending 564 kilometers to link Harbin and Shenyang, capitals of Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces, opened to traffic yesterday.
The Harbin-Shenyang railway is part of an electric railway that connects Harbin with the coastal city of Dalian, a major infrastructure project to be completed in November this year.
The Harbin-Dalian railway runs some 946 kilometers and links 25major cities in the three northeast China provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
Electrification of the railroad, originally built in 1898 by the Russians, started in 1994 and involves a total investment of some 15 billion yuan (US$1.81 billion), which includes 360 million Deutsche marks of German loans.
German technologies and equipment on power supply have been integrated into the railroad renovation, which is designed to ease the transport bottleneck in northeast China and expand transportation there, said Lu Junsheng, deputy director of the Shenyang railroad administration.
With the electric railway, locomotive have a haulage capacity of 5,000 tons compared with 4,000 tons in the past, and trains can run at a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour, Lu said.
Experts believe as part of a modern logistic system in northeast China, the newly electrified railroad will help develop the regional economy and promote the reforms of the numerous state-owned enterprises in the region.
"Electrification of the railroad will facilitate trade between northeast China and Russia's Far East and boost economic cooperation between China and northeast Asian countries such as the Democratic Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Japan," said Tian Chunsheng, a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The Harbin-Dalian railway will also be connected in the south with a waterway linking Dalian and Yantai, a coastal city in Shandong province, east China, and extend to the coastal areas in southeast China.
Statistics show that China has 13,000 kilometers of electric railway, 24 percent of the total length of railways in operation across the country. As electric railway enables trains to run faster and cause less pollution to the environment than traditional ones that use diesel locomotives, China plans to add another 8,000 kilometers of electric railroad to its railway system in the coming five years.