China to build five railway lines costing $25bn

China’s National Development and Reform Commission has approved the construction of five railway lines worth a total of $25bn. 

The lines will be in Gansu and Inner Mongolia, near China’s northern border with Russia, the southern provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi and the central province of Sichuan. 

China Railway Corporation, the national operator, has said it will raise its annual investment by $3.3bn to $120bn in 2014 to increase it build programme.  

Gary Wong, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities, said some of the investments approved by the end of this year might be implemented next year and the year after. He told the South China Morning Post that it would be difficult to maintain this level of investment in the longer term because of the sector’s heavy debts. 

China Railway inherited $460bn worth of debt from its predecessor, the Ministry of Railways, much of it denominated in construction bonds. 

In August the government announced that it would allow rail companies to generate income from property development and the construction of hubs to connect with local bus and taxi service, and that it would aim to attract private investment. 

The Development Commission recently approved infrastructure projects worth $113bn. 

The newly approved infrastructure and rail projects are expected to bolster growth and investment in China’s slowing economy, which has declined to 7.3% this quarter, the lowest since the financial crisis in 2007.

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