Guangzhou-Zhuhai Rail Back on Track
The Guangzhou-Zhuhai railway project resumed yesterday after a hiatus of almost a decade.
The 187-km line will bisect the cities of Foshan and Jiangmen, before arriving at Zhuhai's Gaolan Port. Trains will travel at an estimated 120 kph.
A start date of 2011 has been set and the project is expected to cost 13.16 billion yuan ($1.75 billion).
This compares with the original budget estimate 14 years ago of over 3 billion yuan.
The Ministry of Railways, the provincial government of Guangdong, and the city governments of Zhuhai and Jiangmen will jointly raise funds for the project, with the shortfall made up by bank loans.
The original idea of providing both passenger and freight transport has been superseded by a plan to offer just freight transportation initially, though infrastructure will also be laid for passenger transportation in the future.
Huang Min, director of the Ministry of Railways' development and planning department, said the project would improve the transport load capacity of cities to the west of the Pearl River Delta, including Foshan, Jiangmen and Zhuhai. It would also bolster ties between Guangdong and Macao.
Liu Qingqing, an economics professor with South China Normal University, said the resumed railway project will help break a transportation bottleneck in the booming Pearl River Delta.
He said the railway system was developed on the eastern side - including Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen - but needed improvement on the western side, including the cities of Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhuhai.
Liu said the railway project would mitigate imbalances in the province's railway system and boost sustained economic development.
Guangdong rail freight transportation was over 14 million tons in the first half of this year, up 3.4 percent from a year ago, according to Ministry of Railways statistics.
This was less than half the nation's average of 8.5 percent.
Construction of the Guangzhou-Zhuhai railway project was given State approval 14 years ago and began construction a decade ago. The project came to a halt one and a half years later due to lack of money.