Funds for China rail project approved

By Helen Wright16 March 2012

The World Bank has approved a US$ 200 million loan to support a new rail line from China's capital Beijing to the country's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region that is budgeted to cost a total of US$ 4.5 billion.

The first part of the project will see the construction of a 286 km double track, electrified, passenger-dedicated high-speed rail line between the northern cities of Zhangjiakou and Hohhot, including construction of three new railway stations and the renovation of two existing stations.

Construction is expected to start in June 2013, and the line is scheduled to open to traffic in June 2017.

The urban population and industrial production of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is growing rapidly, and the Chinese government's ZhangHu Railway project aims to provide a direct link between the region and Beijing, initially along the Huhehaote-Zhangjiakou corridor, that will shorten travel time significantly.

For example, travel time between Jining and Huhehaote will be shortened from three hours to about 45 minutes once the new line is operational.

The ZhangHu Railway project is also planned to free up capacity on the existing line for freight traffic to and from neighbouring Mongolia, as well as for more general and containerised rail freight that is planned to assist in the diversification of the Inner Mongolian economy.

With total project investment of over US$ 4.5 billion, the ZhangHu Railway is just one of the new railway lines proposed in China's Mid- and Long-term Railway Network Plan. The scheme will increase the country's rail network to 120000 km by 2020, including 16000 km of high-speed passenger rail.

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