China will spend 350 billion yuan (US$42.3 billion) on railway construction during the current tenth five-year plan period (2001-05), in a bid to achieve international levels reached at the end of the 20th century, and then advanced levels in some key railway sectors by 2015, official said.
Cai Qinghua, China's Vice Minister of Railways, pointed out that the country would open up its railway market step by step to shrink the technology gap with developed countries as more foreign capital, advanced technology and management expertise were introduced.
Cai said during the Modern Railways 2002 Exhibition which opened in Beijing on June 12, where visitors can experience the latest technology and ideas around the world.
With the theme of "raising speed, improving safety, developing high-speed railways and information systems", the exhibition has attracted more than 150 businesses from a dozen countries like Germany, France, the United States, Japan, Canada and the Republic of Korea.
A large number of railway companies from Japan come to the exhibition, indicating their high hopes of involvement in China's railways market. Japan built the world's first high speed railway, the Shinkansen which has run at speeds of 300 km/h for 39 years without a single person being killed.
"We hope to participate in the Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway project, and we hope China has its own Shinkansen," said Yasuki Kurasawa, administrative director of the Japanese Overseas Rolling Stock Association, voicing his belief that China's railway sector will be accessible now that the country is in the WTO.
"It's a collection of the world's top railway technology and products," said Xiong Yongjun, head of the sponsor, the China Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS). He said that he hoped the exhibition would boost China's railway development with more advanced technology and ideas.
Siemens Transportation Systems Group from Germany, for example, showed a series of model trains to attract visitors, such as the new European "concept train" capable of the world's top speed, and a newly designed high-speed train on which it is convenient to work.
China has decided to use top technology for the Beijing- Shanghai High-Speed Railway Project, which has drawn worldwide attention. The 1,300 kilometer-long railway will be its first ever high-speed railway.
By the time of completion, it will take only 4 and half hours from Beijing to Shanghai with trains running at a speed of 350 km/h.
Chinese railway experts say that no matter what kind of technology is used, Maglev or orbit, the project will tell the world that it is no longer a dream for China's railways to reach world standards.
(China Daily June 13, 2002)