Beijing targets economic growth with $500bn rail expansion

Beijing targets economic growth with $500bn rail expansion
The Chinese government plans to spend half a trillion dollars over the next three years on developing the country’s high-speed rail network. The move is part of a five-year plan aimed at shoring up China’s economic growth.

Beijing wants to extend the country's high-speed rail network to more than 30,000 kilometers. That means adding 11,000 kilometers of track for high-speed trains. China's high-speed railway currently makes up 19,000 kilometers.

The network will connect more than 80 percent of China's major cities, according to Vice Transport Minister Yang Yudong.

“We believe these railway lines will break even over time as the flow of people and goods experience fast growth,” he said, adding the government will invite private investment to participate in funding intercity and regional rail lines.

The program includes the construction of integrated transport hubs, renovation of expressways and faster construction of railways to serve less-developed regions in central and western China. The urban rail transit system will be extended by 3,000 kilometers.

On Wednesday, China opened the longest bullet train line linking the country’s east and west. The new 2,264-kilometer line spans five provinces, cutting travel time to 11 hours from 34 hours. It allows trains to travel at speeds up to 330 kilometers per hour.

Over the last two years, Chinese officials ramped up spending on the construction of highways and other public works.

They want to shift to a more sustainable model of growth and restructure the slowing economy toward consumption and services.

The world’s second-largest economy is expected to meet its growth targets of 6.5 to 7 percent this year. Statistics showed China’s industrial development, consumption, and investment maintained stable growth in October-November, with a rapid rise in the service industry.

Despite experts’ concerns, Chinese officials are confident in the country’s economy. President Xi Jinping said China will achieve its major economic targets this year and the positive trends will continue into 2017.