Cities plan intercity transit system
Neighbouring Beijing and Tianjin municipalities are planning to build a high-speed intercity transport network to propel regional economic integration, a senior official says.
Top leaders of the two municipalities have reached consensus to build a new railway which will take only half an hour to get commuters between the two cities, Tianjin Mayor Dai Xianglong said.
Dai said the construction of the railway project, with an estimated investment of 14.3 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion), is scheduled to start before June next year and begin operating in 2007.
Two new expressways linking the two metropolises are also expected to be built within a couple of years, said Dai, who was former governor of the People's Bank of China and elected Mayor of Tianjin last year.
Sources with the Tianjin Development and Planning Commission said the initial plans of the three projects have already been drawn up but still need to get the nod from the central government before construction can be started.
The commission said Tianjin is busy making preliminary preparations such as requisitioning land and relocating households from along the railway and expressway lines.
There is currently only one expressway between Tianjin and Beijing.
Built in 1991, the four-lane route has seen an annual flow increase of 20 per cent, resulting in traffic congestion.
Dai said the old expressway is overloaded most of the day, with most cars only managing average speed of 60 kilometres an hour.
Building new rapid transport links between the two cities is something the Tianjin government has been "longing for day and night," said Dai.
Proposed intercity transport links are considered to be a step towards regional economic integration, with predictions that the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will become the third polar of economic growth after the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas.
The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are expected to serve as a powerful engine for economic development in the whole region.
Total investment is estimated at 1.5 trillion yuan (US$181 billion) up to 2008, tempting businesses from home and abroad. Eager to grab a slice of the huge cake,neighbours Tianjin and Hebei Province are more willing than before to forge closer links with the national capital.
Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei have pledged to co-ordinate building infrastructure, restructure industry, explore resources and protect the environment.
The National Development and Reform Commission, which is doing much of the groundwork for drawing up the 11th Five-Year Development Plan (2006-10), says integrated development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will be included for the first time in the national strategy, and will be featured prominently.
The commission held a conference last week on the regional development plan, which focused on the division of labour in a broader area based on advantages and specialization rather than strict lines of administrative jurisdiction.