High-speed Train Nanjing - Anqing

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Mar. 28, 2007

A high-speed passenger railway is to be built to link Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, and Anqing in Anhui Province in east China.

On completion, the route will cut the travel time between the two cities from the current eight hours to just 90 minutes.

The growing intercity rail network in the Yangtze River delta will also allow people to travel from Anqing to Shanghai in just three hours, down from 12 hours now.

"The railway is expected to stimulate not only economic growth in the areas surrounding the Yangtze River delta, but also regional economic integration," said the National Development and Reform Commission on its website, which approved the 16.7 billion yuan ($2.2 billion) project earlier this month.

Despite its location, Anhui Province's economy has long lagged behind its provincial neighbors Jiangsu and Zhejiang, which together with Shanghai comprise the Yangtze River Delta, one of the main engines behind China's economy.

"But the chance has now come for Anhui. The coastal regions are reconfiguring their industrial structures and some of the industries need to be moved out," said deputy governor Ren Haishen last year.

In fact, Anhui has already benefited from the restructuring. In 2005, 40 percent of the 250 billion yuan ($32.3 billion) fixed asset investment in the province came from industries transferred from the Yangtze River Delta, he said in an online interview with www.people.com.cn.

Facing such a good opportunity, the provincial government decided to give priority to the region along the Yangtze River, as well as Hefei, its capital city.

The construction of the Nanjing-Anqing railway will help boost the growth of the region.

The 250-kilometer railway will run almost parallel to the river, passing through Ma'anshan, Wuhu, Tongling and Chizhou.

With a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour, trains will carry passengers between any two of the 16 cities in the Yangtze River Delta in no more than four hours.

Also, as both Hubei and Henan provinces are to the west of Anhui, the railway will speed up travel between central and coastal provinces, which will support the development of Central China.

As a major supplier of energy and labor, Anhui has witnessed a growing number of farmers leaving the province to work in coastal cities.

"The current railway in Anhui Province has been unable to satisfy demand," said Liu Lianqing, director of the Shanghai Railway Bureau.

He told Shanghai Railway Magazine that the Ministry of Railways and the Anhui provincial government had signed an agreement to lay 1,700 kilometers of new tracks before 2020.

In addition to the Nanjing-Anqing railway, a high- speed passenger rail link is also under construction between Nanjing and Hefei, the capital of Anhui Province. Works began in 2004 and will be finished before 2010.

Once completed, people in Hefei will be able to travel to Nanjing in just one hour, and to Shanghai in two-and-a-half hours.

"The new railways will cost at least 100 billion yuan ($12.9 billion) over the next five to seven years," Liu said.

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