Construction began on a high-speed passenger rail line between Beijing and Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province Tuesday, the Ministry of Railway (MOR) said.
The new 281 kilometer line is part of another route which connects Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong in south China. It totals more than 2,300 km long.
With an estimated cost of 43.87 billion yuan (6.4 billion U.S. dollars), the Beijing-Shijiazhuang line is expected to be complete and in operation in four years. It is jointly funded by the MOR, Beijing and Hebei governments.
The designed speed of the railway is 350 km per hour. Initially, however, trains will only travel 300 km per hour.
Once operating, this new line should cut the journey from Beijing to Shijiazhuang from 119 minutes to less than 60 minutes, the ministry said.
The new line will have six stations.
Seventy-seven percent of it, or about 218.47 km, will be built on an elevated alignment to save land.
In the meantime, Chinese workers will also be building a 28.7-km-long railway linking Shijiazhuang to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi Province.
The MOR said it hopes to build 9,800 km of passenger-dedicated railway over its Five-year Plan (2006-2010).
(Xinhua News Agency October 7, 2008)