China is planning to reverse a post-pandemic slowdown in rail construction with a surge of projects beginning in the fourth quarter of the year.
The decision to accelerate the implementation of dozens of projects, and begin feasibility studies for new ones, was made at a meeting of China State Railway Group, the country’s main rail operator, held earlier this month.
Among the high-speed projects that will start in the next three months are:
- The Ankang–Chongqing section of the 653km Chongqing–Xi’an railway in the west of the country. Work on the line began in June last year, and the latest section was approved by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment on 8 September.
- The North Yangtze link between Shanghai and neighbouring Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. This project, which has been on the drawing board for almost 10 years, will stretch 555km with 16 stations, and is expected to have a significant impact on economic growth in the region.
- A section of the 486km Chengdu–Dazhou–Wanzhou railway connecting southwestern Sichuan province with Chongqing in central China. This will be a mix of medium and high-speed line; work began in 2020.
According to the National Railway Administration, capital investment in China’s rail sector fell 4.2% to $107bn in 2021, an eight-year low. Between January and August of this year, year-on-year spending fell a further 4.4%.
Part of the impetus for the new investment was has come from a speech made by President Xi Jinping at the Fifth Plenary Session of China’s Communist Party.
A report on China Railways’ website notes that the speech called for China Railways to carry out an across the board upgrade of its performance “accelerate the construction of a new development pattern, and clearly pointed out that the construction of a new development pattern needs to be grasped”.