China to open $30bn coal railway by end of month

Deemed the world’s longest heavy freight line, a $30bn railway built to haul coal from China’s northern mines to its eastern and central provinces is set to open by the end of this month.

The Haoji line will carry up to 200 million tonnes of coal a year from Haole Baoji in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region to the city of Ji’an in Jiangxi province, a distance of around 1,800km.

China Railways has been working on the line for the past seven years, and is now completing work on the last section, which intersects with the Shanghai-Kunming Railway in Jiangxi’s Xinyu City.

The line will fuel China’s network of coal-fired plants – officially capped at 1,100GW – as well as what one recent report described as a "tsunami" of plants under construction, which may add another 259GW of installed capacity.

Although China has suffered severe air pollution, and is working to develop renewable energy, some 60% of its power is still generated from coal.

Bloomberg reports that the aim of the line is to reorientate the country’s coal distribution infrastructure, which is predominantly moves coal from western mines to eastern ports, where it is moved by ship to plants in the south.

The new line is set to cut the 20 days required by the seaborne route to three.

Image: China is pressing ahead with coal energy despite its problems with air pollution (Dreamstime)

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