China’s powerful state planning agency has approved a new high-speed railway between two major cities in the west of the country, Chengdu and Chongqing.
The 432.4km link, costing some $12.86 billion (85.1 billion yuan), will run through other cities in southwestern Sichuan province, the National Development and Reform Committee said in a statement on 12 November, reports Reuters.
With around 36,000km of high-speed railways now built, China leads the world in this transport mode, but it has no plans to stop.
In August, China Railway Group revealed plans to nearly double the size of the total network to 70,000km in the next 15 years.Â
Beijing sees more high-speed rail as a way of stimulating China’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also wants to distribute the benefits of economic growth more evenly across the country.
At present, there are wide disparities in wealth between Chinese provinces, with the Beijing region averaging a nominal per capita income of more than $20,000 compared with $9,300 in the central province of Hubei and $4,500 in the remote northwestern province of Gansu.
The aim is to encourage the growth of regional hubs, thereby offering migrating rural workers an alternative to the relatively wealthy coastal provinces.
All cities with a population greater than 200,000 will be on a rail line, and those with more than 500,000 people will have access to a service travelling at over 250km/h.
Image: A CR400AF train at Beijing South railway station (N509FZ/CC BY-SA 4.0)