Construction of the 92.3-billion-yuan ($12 billion) passenger-only railway line linking four major cities in Northeast China began yesterday in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province.
The railway stretches from Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, to Dalian in Liaoning Province via Changchun and Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province and will have 23 stations. It will cut through major industrial clusters such as heavy chemicals in Harbin and Daqing, automobile in Changchun, equipment manufacturing in Shenyang, chemicals, ship-building and information technology in Dalian and steel in Anshan.
Experts said the new railway will ease pressure on the existing Harbin-Dalian railway, which is the busiest in the region, transporting coal, oil, agrarian produce and wood.
This line will be used mainly for cargo transport when the new railway is completed and opened to traffic at the beginning of 2013.
The Ministry of Railway said that to start with, trains will run only at 200 kph on the new rail line, though the line will be upgraded later to run trains at 350 kph.
As a key project of China's mid- and long-term rail construction plan, the railway is expected to transport 37 million passengers per year by 2020, and 51 million by 2030.
It will also support the development of two major harbors in the region - Dalian and Yingkou.
Besides this project, three more sections of railways are under construction in Northeast China. They will link up with 13 existing railways and form a major railway artery along the coast in the eastern part of Northeast China.
The 1,389-km rail artery will stretch from Mudanjiang, a city in Heilongjiang, in the north, to Dalian via Tumen and Tonghua in Jilin Province, and Dandong and Zhuanghe cities in Liaoning.
Theses lines will contribute to the country's plan to revitalize the northeastern region.
The central government plans to develop the northeast into a base for equipment manufacturing, raw material and energy security, agriculture and forestry and for tech innovation.