China’s high-speed railway grid of four east-west lines and four north-south lines has basically been completed. At the end of 2016, China’s high-speed rail network stood at 22,000km.
According to a comprehensive transport plan approved earlier this year by the State Council, China’s cabinet, the high-speed rail network will reach 30,000km by 2020. This will effectively double the grid network already created so that there will be eight east-west and eight north-south lines.
Accelerating railway development, particularly investment in the central and western regions, is key for China’s strategy to stabilize growth, adjust economic structure, increase efficient investment and expand consumption,” the plan says.
Besides these major lines, China is planning some short-distance lines to add to the high-speed network by 2020. When the 2020 target has been reached, more than 80% of cities with a population of more than one million will be served by high-speed train.
China’s investment in railway fixed assets stood at Yuan 801.5 billion ($US 118bn) in 2016, according to the Ministry of Transport. Fixed asset investment includes capital spent on infrastructure, machinery and other physical assets.
This year fixed asset investment will be at the same level as in 2016, with the government setting a target of Yuan 800bn, according to China Railway Corporation (CRC). China plans to invest Yuan 3.5 trillion in railway construction during the 13th Five-Year Plan covering the period 2016-2020. China spending about $120 billion per year on internal high speed rail projects and will likely spend several hundred billion dollars on a Transasia high speed rail network.
According to the revised plan, the total length of high-speed lines will be further extended to reach 38,000km by 2025, and 45,000km by 2030. China will also have even more extensive subways systems within cities and regions.
China’s next-generation Fuxing or Rejuvenation high-speed train made its debut on the country’s busiest high-speed route, the Beijing – Shanghai line, in June. The new train, which has been developed from the widely-used Hexiehao (Harmony) train, has a maximum design speed of 400km/h and can operate at 350km/h. Besides the higher speed, it is more spacious, has a longer design lifecycle, and should be more reliable than previous generations of Chinese high-speed trains.
“Fuxing will be China’s prime high-speed export train in the future,” says Mr He Huawu, CRC’s chief engineer. “The model can be adapted to various situations, including extreme climates.”
China and Indonesia signed an EPC deal in April to build a high-speed rail link between the capital Jakarta and Indonesia’s fourth largest city Bandung. The line, with a maximum design speed of 350km/h, will be operational in three years’ time and will cut the journey time between the two cities from more than three hours to just 40 minutes.
The deal was the first full-package overseas high-speed project using Chinese technology, design, engineering, equipment, management and personnel training.
China is pushing forward with high-speed railway projects in Russia. CRC, Russian Railways (RZD), Chinese train builder CRRC and a Russian railway company have signed a letter of intent to build a 762km railway between Moscow and Kazan, with a designed maximum speed of 400km/h and an operating speed of 360km/h. China is also actively seeking high-speed railway deals in Malaysia, Britain and the United States as it looks to export its expertise around the world.
This Belt and Road effort with hundred of billions of dollars in funding will likely result in a significant buildout of the Transasia-Europe high speed rail network by 2030.