China plans 2,000km of high-speed rail lines as part of $390bn transport budget

China plans to build at least 4,000km of rail lines this year, half of which will be high-speed, China State Railway Group said last week.

The new lines will be part of a $386bn spend on transport infrastructure projects, of which 31% will go to the rail sector.

The 2020 programme maintains the country’s spending on rail in 2019, during which almost 8,500km of track became operational. This brought the total length of China’s rail network to 139,000km by the end of last year, of which 35,000km was high-speed.

Among the 51 lines opened last year, was the 174km high-speed route linking Beijing with Zhangjiakou, one of the cities hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics. Trains on this line run autonomously at a maximum speed of 350km/h.

Lu Dongfu, general manager of China State Railway Group, told its annual conference last week that the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet link, the second into the Tibet autonomous region after the Qinghai-Tibet line, will be a major project for 2020.

He added that the revenue of the rail sector increased 6% in 2019 to $117bn, and it was expected to reach $125bn by the end of 2020.

Lu said China Railways would also offer more generous discounts on more lines, and would pilot digital ticketing throughout the network.

Zhang Xiaodong, a professor of rail transportation economics at Beijing Jiaotong University, told China Daily that since the country completed its first high-speed link between Beijing and Tianjin in 2008, the country had constructed more high-speed track than Japan and Europe.

Meanwhile, Canadian engineer Bombardier’s Chinese joint venture has been awarded a $430m contract to supply 160 CR400AF high-speed train cars to China State Railway Group.

Bombardier Sifang Transportation (BST) will supply the units, configured into 10 16-car trainsets, with an operating speed of 350km/h, and will be delivered by mid-2020. The contract, BST’s third for China Railways, was signed on 31 December.

Jianwei Zhang, president of Bombardier Transportation China, said: "China’s high-speed rail industry has become one of the nation’s economic pillar industries and the high-speed network has brought greater mobility and prosperity to the public.

"Bombardier is proud of its contributions to China’s rail industry and looks forward to delivering more of the high-quality products that are helping China meet its ambitious long-term mobility goals."

The Montreal-based company’s press release notes that in 2018, BST won two contracts to build a total of 288 CR400AF cars and "every car was delivered on-time and on quality".

Image: Riding economy class on a high-speed train (Victor Wong/Dreamstime)

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