A high-speed train depot on the railway between Shanghai and Nanjing. (Photo by Bruce Connolly/chinadaily.com.cn)
China's national railway network will be extended to 165,000 kilometers by the end of 2025, 50,000 km of which will be high-speed railways, according to Liu Zhenfang, president of the China State Railway Group, the national railway operator.
"The goal for the next five years and beyond is to promote the system's high-quality development and take the lead in achieving modernization to support efforts to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects," said Liu, who is also a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress.
To key to achieving the goal by the end of 2025 is to develop a modernized railway system, concentrating on infrastructure, transportation services, scientific and technological innovation, safety, operations and management, and governance.
By then, the sector will have fulfilled the targets set in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for railway development, he said.
"To build a modernized railway transportation service, we will speed up efforts to build a smart, efficient service system and use the high-speed railway network to assist in the development of a modernized logistics system," Liu said.
By the end of 2025, 99.5 percent of cities with more than 200,000 residents will have access to the general railway network, and 98 percent of cities with more than 500,000 residents will have access to the high-speed railway network.
To build a modernized technology innovation system, the sector will insist on following the country's major strategies, promoting the development of the railway industrial system and further expanding the leading advantages of China's railway sector around the world, he added.
Last month, a railway science and technology innovation alliance was established in Beijing. The group aims to gather resources to conduct joint research on key technologies, promote the industrial application of railway innovation achievements and enhance technological communication and talent training.
The alliance, led by the China State Railway Group, consists of key enterprises, universities and research institutes striving for deep integration of the academic, research and industrial sectors.
With its joint research efforts, the alliance hopes to make breakthroughs in key technologies. It will allocate resources to contribute to the country's strategic plans, and it will study global technological problems, take up key tasks and promote technological and innovation capability in the field.
China's railway network has seen rapid development over the past decade and has made great accomplishments, Liu said.
China's railway technology is ranked among the best in the world, particularly with its high-speed railways, plateau railways, railways in extremely cold climates and heavy-load railways.
The cross-border freight train linking China and Europe connects 108 Chinese cities and 208 cities in 25 European countries. Since its opening in 2011, the train has operated 65,000 China-Europe services and has hauled 6.04 million containers.
In 10 years, 4.3 trillion yuan ($617 billion) was invested to build railways in remote, less-developed areas, accounting for 78 percent of the overall investment in railway construction, bringing railway services to more than 130 counties.
By the end of last year, China's railway network covered 155,000 km, of which 42,000 km are high-speed railways, accounting for more than two-thirds of the world's high-speed railways.
"These achievements have not come easily. They are the result of continuous efforts made by 2 million railway workers," Liu said.