China To Spend 3.5 Trillion Yuan (~$503 Billion) By 2020 On High-Speed Rail Network Expansion

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China is planning to spend 3.5 trillion yuan (~$503 billion) by 2020 on an expansion of its railway system that will see the country’s high-speed rail network grow to 30,000 kilometers (18,650 miles), according to recent reports that follow a State Council Information Office briefing in Beijing.

To explain those figures better, the achievement of the plans would see 80% of the major cities in China covered by the new high-speed rail network. Also, 30,000 kilometers is roughly 6.5 times the distance between New York and Los Angeles (when traveled by road). So, in other words, it’s a very substantial high-speed rail network.

The plans reportedly have the double intent of bolstering growth and cutting down on road travel and associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to better linking the country’s urban centers, of course. (For an example of how substantial the country’s air pollution problems are, see: Smog “Red Alert” In China Closes Schools & Businesses, & Ground Flights.)

Bloomberg provides more:

“The plan will see high-speed rail lines across the country expand by more than half over a 5-year period, a boon to Chinese suppliers of rolling stock such as CRRC Corporation and rail construction companies including China Railway Construction Corporation and China Railway Group Ltd. Earlier this year, China turned to a private company for first time to operate an inter-city rail service on the mainland, part of President Xi Jinping’s push to modernize the nation’s transport network amid slowing growth.

“China will also add 3,000 kilometers to its urban rail transit system under the plan released Thursday.

“The Chinese government will invite private investment to participate in funding intercity and regional rail lines, Yang Yudong, administrator of the National Railway Administration, said at the briefing. … The government plans to ‘adjust’ fares to ensure rail businesses nationwide are viable, the official said, without being more specific.”

Notably, despite “unprofitable” operations, further rail investments will be made in some of the poorer parts of the country in the west, according to Yang. He stated: “We believe these railway lines will break even over time as the flow of people and goods experience fast growth.”

Good news for those in China. Though, it’s also news likely to cause envy or exasperation in those living in parts of the world where high-speed rail is apparently maligned, for whatever reasons — such as the USA.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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