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Sichuan's railway construction expanding at faster pace

By Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-18 09:24
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Visitors practice bamboo weaving - a traditional handicraft in Sichuan province - during a recent expo in Beijing. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Railway construction in Southwest China's Sichuan province is picking up in intensity as the province steps up efforts to build itself into an inland transportation hub within China as well as a bridge that connects the country with rest of the world, the province's Party secretary said on Monday.

Peng Qinghua, secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at a media conference in Beijing that Sichuan is currently building multiple railways in all directions.

"Before 1949, the infrastructure of Sichuan province was quite outdated. There was no railway, and the total length of highways was merely 2,000 kilometers," Peng said.

Construction of the Chengdu-Nanchong-Dazhou-Wanzhou High-speed Railway heading east will start soon, while the westward bound Sichuan-Tibet Railway is under construction, and the part from Chengdu to Ya'an, Sichuan province, is now open to traffic.

Toward the south, the Sichuan section of the Guiyang-Guangzhou High-speed Railway was put into operation a few days ago, and the Chengdu-Zigong-Yibin High-speed Railway is being built. Northward, the railway to connect Chengdu with Xining, Qinghai province, and with Lanzhou, Gansu province, is under construction. Once completed, the railway will connect the Silk Road Economic Belt more easily.

"Sichuan's comprehensive transportation system is constantly improving. The operational length of railways reached 4,970 kms, and that of the highway system surpassed 330,000 kms, taking the lead for the country. The China Railway Express that began in Chengdu surpassed 3,500 lines, taking up one fourth of the country's total, and ranking first among all cities in China," Peng said.

In terms of air transportation, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport now has 117 international routes, and the airport's passenger throughput last year totaled 53 million, ranking fourth in the nation. In addition, Chengdu is constructing Tianfu International Airport, which is expected to open in 2021, bolstering connections between Sichuan and the rest of the world.

"Chengdu is further opening up to the outside world. I see great development potential in the city," said Jim Mullinax, the US consul-general in Chengdu, at the Chengdu Opening-up Conference.

The improvement of Sichuan's infrastructure construction resulted from robust financial support. Data from the State Council Information Office showed that in 2018, the total social investment in fixed assets in Sichuan reached 2.8 trillion yuan ($404 billion), and the amount of investment per hour is much higher now than that was expended in the whole of 1952.

Together with the scale of investment, the province's economy has sharply improved. The State Council Information Office said the gross domestic product of Sichuan province totaled 4.07 trillion yuan last year, ranking sixth in the country and first in western China.

"We expect Sichuan's GDP to increase by another 1 trillion yuan in the coming three years," Peng said.

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