China has started construction on 16 new express passenger rail projects and is expected to have 12,000 kilometers of express rail lines by 2020, the Ministry of Railways said Sunday.
New express rail lines will link up provincial capitals and large and medium-sized cities, as well as cities in the booming Bohai Sea, Yangtze and Pearl River regions.
The construction of such lines is aimed to substantially enhance the country's rail transport capacities, as stated in the country's mid- and long-term plan on railway networks.
The 115 km express rail line connecting Beijing and Tianjin would become the country's first that allows a maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour. Track laying on the route started just days ago.
The line will be ready for operation in time for the 2008 Olympic Games in August, and will shorten the journey between Tianjin and Beijing from 70 minutes at present to around 30 minutes, according to Liu Rong, director of the railway construction project.
China's State Council has also approved the feasibility report on the planned 1,318 km high-speed railway linking Shanghai and Beijing after nearly 10 years of preparations. The project, if completed, will be the longest high-speed rail line in the world.
The Beijing-Shanghai express railway is expected to cut travel time between the two cities from around 10 hours at present to about five hours.
China's fastest domestic trains currently run at a speed of up to 250 kilometers per hour.