The Ministry of Railways announced in Beijing on Wednesday that China will begin building high-speed "bullet train" railways, on which trains can travel at speeds above 300 kilometers per hour, in 2005.
The ministry is sponsoring a two-day international seminar on passenger-dedicated line engineering in Beijing. Sixteen foreign consultant companies are participating.
The government has approved the building of a total of 3,000 kilometers of railways on which trains can operate at 200 kilometers per hour or more, said Vice Minister of Railways Lu Dongfu.
Trains on the lines running from Wuhan to Guangzhou and Zhengzhou to Xi'an will be the 300-kilometer-per-hour bullet trains.
He Huawu, the ministry's chief engineer, said that the lines are designed to handle traffic traveling at 350 kilometers per hour, although the operating speed in the initial stages will be limited to 300 kilometers per hour and 200 when passing flyovers.
The ministry's long-term program calls for the building of 10,000 kilometers of special passenger railways, with 2,000 kilometers of high-speed railways concentrated in the Bohai Sea rim, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta areas, by the end of 2020.
The 3,000 kilometers of new track includes lines from Wuhan, Hubei Province to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province; from Zhengzhou, Henan Province to Xi'an, Shaanxi Province; from Beijing to Tianjin Municipality; and from Hefei, Anhui Province to Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.
Japan built the first high-speed railway in 1964; currently trains there run at a maximum of 300 kilometers per hour.
(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2004)