Executive directors of the World Bank's board have given the green light to a loan of US$200 million to assist expand the capacity of the railway between China's Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.
The World Bank's office in China said on Tuesday that the project aimed to provide a major increase in capacity to the Liupanshui-Zhanyi (Liu-Zhan) section of the Guiyang-Kunming line. It was also designed to improve passenger services and freight transport by halving transit times and enabling operation of double-stack container trains.
The 254-kilometer Liu-Zhan line is at the western end of the Shanghai-Kunming corridor and crosses the watershed between the Yangtze and Pearl rivers. It was built as a single track in 1966 and electrified in 1988. It's now operating close to capacity but below forecasts as the economy in western China continues to grow.
To expand its capacity to and from Yunnan the government plans to realign the track to allow for higher speeds, 'double-track' at the section between Liu and Zhan and remodel the Liu terminal area.
The project will quadruple the capacity of the line, cut travel times significantly and meet the growing demand for transport between Guizhou and Yunnan.
John Scales, World Bank transport sector coordinator in Beijing and manager for the Third National Railway Project, said the additional capacity required to be developed rapidly.
The World Bank supported the provision of additional capacity, particularly in the West, together with meeting the challenges of functioning in a market economy amid growing competition from other transport options and the greater environmental and energy efficiency benefits railways offered. The total cost of the project is approximately 8.8 billion yuan.
In a further development the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is making a grant of US$500,000 to China for the construction of a new railway linking Lanzhou in northwestern Gansu Province to Chongqing in the southwest.
The project will involve the construction of 817 kilometers of electrified line, much of it through mountainous terrain, and 21 stations. Three quarters of the route's length will comprise tunnels and bridges.
According to the ADB the project area will cover 13 counties and cities with a total population of about 15 million with two thirds of that being rural.
The majority of people in the area work in low-yield agriculture. Despite the area's rich natural resources and tourism potential, poverty is high as the local population is cut off from mainstream development due to the lack of transport links.
The railway will also connect Xinjiang to Yunnan, Lanzhou to Alashankou and Chongqing to Hekou on the Vietnamese border.
"The railway will increase local people's access to jobs, markets and services and give them an opportunity to improve their living standards," says Manmohan Parkash, ADB Senior Transport Specialist and project team leader.
The work is a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Chongqing, Gansu and Sichuan local governments.
Parkash said ADB's strategy for China's railway sector was focused on expanding the network in underprivileged areas and modernizing key routes so as to improve efficiency.
(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2007)