China to expand railway network, targets 6,800km of new tracks in 2019

Reports suggest that China is planning to invest in about 6,800 kilometers, or 4,225 miles, of new railway tracks in 2019 as part of a broader push to accelerate infrastructure spending. The 2019 target apparently represents a 40% increase over the length of rail lines that were laid last year.

The China Railway Corp confirmed the reports adding that at least 3,200 km of the new railway lines would be established for high-speed rail. The firm mentioned that it had invested in 4,683 km of new rail tracks in the previous year, 4,100 of which were for high-speed rail infrastructure.

The company stated that around 802.9 billion yuan (US$117.12 billion) had been invested in 2018 in rail fixed assets, while it had set 732 billion yuan as its initial budget in January last year. It, however, did not provide an investment target for the year 2019.

According to records, China has shelled out billions of dollars to develop its railway network over the past decade, although there have been signs to indicate this expansion was beginning to get slow as the network grew, with Beijing cracking down on the debt of the local government. Supposedly, its investment target for 2018 was its lowest one since 2013.

Sources familiar with the matter stated that in the second half of the previous year, the government had begun speeding up investment spending in an attempt to boost growth in the slowing economy of the country. It had approved new railway projects as well as allowed the revival of suspended ones.

China would be able to reach its goal of 30,000 km of high-speed rail network one year before schedule, the sources added. The total length of high-speed rails in China had grown to 29,000 km by the end of last year, which is allegedly more than two thirds of the world’s total.