The departure of a freight train from Shanghai to Nanjing on Friday marked the beginning of operations on the new electrified Beijing-Shanghai railway.
Twenty pairs of freight trains will run along the line every day and double-decker container trains will also be in operation at the same time. But the railway will not open for passenger transport in the near future.
The Shanghai Railway Bureau has promised to increase the electric power capacity, in order to have the railway in service for passenger transport as early as possible.
Running through the municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai and provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu, the 1,464-km Beijing-Shanghai railway links China's two booming economic zones, namely, the Bohai Bay Rim and the Yangtze River Delta, and forms the country's busiest railway corridor.
With a length only 2.2 percent of China's total railway mileage, the Beijing-Shanghai railway will transport 8.9 percent of the total goods and 12.4 percent of the total passengers handled by the country's railway network.
China also plans to start the construction of a 1,318 km-long high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai this year, which will run parallel to the existing Beijing-Shanghai track. The high-speed railway is expected to open for service in 2010.
China now ranks third in the world after Russia and Germany in the length of electrified track.
The Ministry of Railways plans to electrify 6,000 km of track in the 11th Five-Year Guidelines period from 2006 to 2010.
Under the program, China's total railway length is expected to extend from 74,000 to 85,000 km, of which, double tracked route mileage will be 35,000 km, and the electrified track routes will also account for 35,000 km by the year 2010.
(China.org.cn, Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2006)