South China's Guangdong Province plans to build a railway to link major coastal cities in the province, heralding an ambitious programme to more than double existing rail length for long-term infrastructure needs.
The railway will also connect Guangdong's coastal cities with Fuzhou and Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province and Hangzhou and Ningbo in Zhejiang Province farther north.
Guangdong's major coastal cities of Shantou, Huizhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Maoming and Zhanjiang will greatly benefit from the rail project.
Construction of the 423-kilometre-long Raoping-Shenzhen section of the coastal railway line in eastern Guangdong will begin before 2010, however the completion of the entire project is forecasted in 2020.
The coastal railway is expected to further economic ties among the coastal cities in South and East China.
The coastal railway is one of many railway projects which will be built in Guangdong Province in the years to come, according to Chen Shanru, director of the Guangdong Provincial Commission of Development and Planning.
A length of 2,617 kilometres of new railways will be constructed in this southern Chinese province in the coming 16 years, aiming to make Guangdong a new railway transportation hub that can compete with Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.
By the end of 2020, Guangdong, which borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, will own a total length of 4,500 kilometres of railway tracks, making it a key province in railway transportation and fortifying its status as a logistic centre in South China.
More than 150 billion yuan (US$18 billion) will be needed to build the railway projects from 2005 to 2020, Chen said.
The Guangdong provincial government has decided to open multiple channels to help raise the construction funds it needs, Chen said.
"Priorities will be given to construction of the railway projects that link Guangdong to other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions," said Chen.
And by 2020, Guangdong will have a total of 12 railway lines to connect the province with other mainland areas, added Chen.
Currently Guangdong has five railway lines.
The move aims to further expand economic ties between prosperous Guangdong and other Chinese regions, especially the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region that covers Guangdong, Sichuan, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Hainan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Construction of Guangzhou-Wuhan, Guangdong section of Luoyang-Zhanjiang, Guangzhou-Zhuhai and the fourth Guangzhou-Shenzhen railway lines and the new Guangzhou Railway Station will begin before the end of the year.
The 904-kilometre Guangzhou-Wuhan Railway Project is scheduled to be completed in 2008. It will cost more than 20.3 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion).
And the travel time for passenger trains between the two major Chinese cities will be shortened from 10 to about four hours on the new track.
Construction of the 116-kilometre Guangdong section of Zhanjiang-Luoyang Railway will cost 2.34 billion yuan (US$272 million). The project, which links Guangdong and Central China's Henan Province, will be completed in 2008.
Meanwhile construction of a modern railway station is expected to officially begin in Guangzhou within the year.
The new railway station will cost 14.76 billion yuan (US$1.79 billion) and is expected to start operation in 2008. The new station will be able to handle more than 80.14 million passengers annually.
Located in Shibi Town in Guangzhou's Panyu District, the new railway station will be connected with advanced light railway, metro and expressway networks in the Pearl River Delta.
(China Daily September 21, 2004)