China has approved a high-speed railway line linking Shanghai and Huzhou in Zhejiang Province that will upgrade the transport network and facilitate socioeconomic integration in eastern regions, the country’s economic planning agency said.
The 163.54-kilometer railway will start from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and pass through Suzhou in Jiangsu Province before ending in Huzhou, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a posting on its website.
Designed to run at a top speed of 350km per hour, the railway line is expected to carry about 50 million passengers per year.
A total of 36.8 billion yuan (US$5.33 billion) will be invested in the construction of the project, which will take four years, the NDRC said.
From that, about 1.1 billion yuan will be spent to purchase the high-speed trains.
The new rail service is expected to shorten the travel time between Shanghai and Huzhou to 30 minutes. Currently, passengers have to transit via Hangzhou in Zhejiang — a journey that takes around two hours.
According to the NDRC, the newly approved railway line will have six stations. It will criss-cross another under-construction line that will enable passengers from Shangqiu in central China’s Henan Province, Hefei in east Anhui Province and Hangzhou to travel to the Yangtze River Delta cities.
The new project is part of the central government’s efforts to develop the Yangtze River Delta region. The delta, which spans Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai, already has the most developed high-speed train network in China, with stops in 34 of the 41 major cities.
The new Shanghai-Huzhou line is expected to improve connectivity with lines between Shanghai and Nanjing, Nanjing and Hangzhou as well as Nantong and Jiaxing cities.
Earlier, the NDRC has also approved Suzhou’s expansion plan for its Rail Transit, known as Suzhou Metro. The 41km Line S1 will connect with Huaqiao Station, one of the terminus of Shanghai’s Metro Line 11, and go through Kunshan, a county-level city in Jiangsu.
The new infrastructure projects are expected to boost the Yangtze River Economic Belt that covers only 20 percent of the national area but contributes nearly half of China’s economic output, the NDRC said.