BEIJING - Amid a surge in planned infrastructure projects next year aimed at boosting domestic demand, China plans to almost double its investment in railways to about 600 billion yuan (US$87.9 billion).
The money is part of the 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package announced by the government earlier this year.
In 2008, China spent 330 billion yuan on railways, according to a national conference on railway construction held here Wednesday.
Part of next year's 600 billion yuan would be used to build a total of 5,148 km of new rails, said Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun at the meeting.
The money will also help put five passenger-dedicated, high-speed lines into operation next year, according to Liu. These rails will link the central city of Wuhan to the southern city of Guangzhou; Zhengzhou in central Henan Province to Xi'an in northwest Shaanxi Province; Ningbo to Wenzhou, both in east China's Zhejiang Province; Wenzhou to Fuzhou in southern Fujian Province; and Fuzhou to Xiamen, also in Fujian.
The ministry also planned to start 70 new projects next year with part of the money. Those projects will need a total investment of 1.5 trillion yuan to be completed, Liu said.
Rail transport strain to be eased
Liu also predicted railway travel would be much easier by 2012. Currently, there are not enough seats for all the people who want to travel, especially during the Spring Festival every year, when millions are on the move.
"There could be a historical change in the country's railway transport by 2012. The bottle-neck restraints both in passenger and cargo transportation could be removed," he said.
Railways inside the country would reach 110,000 km by 2012. About 13,000 km of passenger lines, which allow trains to travel between 200 to 350 km per hour, would be put into use.
"Such coverage of passenger rails should be able to ensure that passenger needs are satisfied," he said