Beijing: China Thursday announced plans to invest a whopping USD 103.56 billion in the country's railway infrastructure this year, making it an engine of growth to revive the slowing economy due to global export slump.
The government plans to invest 650 billion yuan (USD 103. 56 billion) in railway construction this year, nearly equivalent to the amount spent last year, Minister of Railways Sheng Guangzu said.
New railways with a combined length of 5,200 km will go into operation this year as well, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Although the amount is slightly up from the 630.98 billion yuan spent in 2012, it is significantly down from 2010's record investment of 842.65 billion yuan.
The ministry will diversify financing channels by encouraging local governments, enterprises and private investors to participate in railway construction, Sheng said.
The big allocation came in immediate back drop of China launching its longest high speed rail link of 2,298 km connecting capital Beijing with Guangzhou city last month.
China has already constructed 9,300 km of high speed network and expanding rapidly to all corners of the country.
This year's investment was expected to revive all the stalled projects halted after the 2011 high speed train crash in which 40 people were killed.
Also the railway expansion suffered a set back after China's longest serving Railway Minister Liu Zhijun's was arrested in 2011 on charges of corruption. He is due to go on trial this year.
According to the 12th five-year plan for railway development by 2015, China will have around 120,000 km of railways in operation, including 18,000 km of high-speed railways and an express railway network totalling 40,000 km in length.
In 2013, the ministry will push reforms in its affiliated transport units to promote the all-around marketisation of the sector, and increase the management ability of its railway bureaus as market players, the Xinhua report said.
The ministry aims to boost passenger transport numbers to 2.04 billion people and freight to 4.03 billion tonnes in 2013, Sheng said.
For 2012, China's exports grew 7.9 percent and imports were up 4.3 percent, both well under their 10 percent target.
First Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013, 19:09