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Rail transport is an important mode of long-distance transportation in China. As of 2015, the country has 121,000 km (75,186 mi)[a][4] of railways, the second longest network in the world.[5] By the end of 2018, China had 29,000 kilometres (18,020 miles) of high-speed rail (HSR), the longest HSR network in the world.[6][4]

Almost all rail operations are handled by the China State Railway Group Company, Limited, a state-owned company created in March 2013 (as China Railway Corporation) from dissolution of the Ministry of Railways. It was converted into a joint-stock company and placed under the control of the Ministry of Finance in June 2019.

China's railways are among the busiest in the world. In 2019, railways in China delivered 3.660 billion passenger trips, generating 1,470.66 billion passenger-kilometres and carried 4.389 billion tonnes of freight, generating 3,018 billion cargo tonne-kilometres.[1] Freight traffic turnover has increased more than fivefold over the period 1980-2013 and passenger traffic turnover has increased more than sevenfold over the same period.[7] Driven by need to increase freight capacity, the railway network has expanded with the country budgeting $130.4 billion for railway investment in 2014, and has a long-term plan to expand the network to 274,000 km (170,000 mi) by 2050. China built 9,000 km of new railway in 2015.[8]

A railway connecting Kunming to the border with Laos is under construction, which connects to another under construction line linking the border t

At Hekou, the narrow-gauge Kunming–Hai Phong Railway from Kunming, in Yunnan Province crosses into Vietnam's Lao Cai Province. This line, also known as the Yunnan–Vietnam Railway, was built by France from 1904 to 1910 though rugged terrain. Cross-border service on this line ceased in late 2000, but freight trains have kept this crossing operational.

A railway connecting Kunming to the border with Laos is under construction, which connects to another under construction line linking the border to the Lao capital Vientiane, which already has a real link to Thailand.

Proposed rail links

In recent years, China has been actively exploring and promoting the extension of its railway network to neighboring countries and distant regions including the Russian Far East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and even North America.

Macau

Macau SAR is currently served by Macau Light Rail Transit completed in 2019.[72] A "Hengqin Branch Line" is planned for the network, which will connect the network directly to Hengqin, part of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province.[73][74] The extension line is planned to connect with Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Railway at the Hengqin station which is part of its first phase extension project that is scheduled to complete in year 2018, and would facilitate seamless cross border rail transit.[75]

Additionally, the city of Guangzhou, Zhongshan, and Zhuhai have proposed the construction of a new "Guangzhou-Zhongshan-Zhuhai-Macau Intercity Railways" which could further connectivity on the west bank of Zhongshan, and Zhuhai have proposed the construction of a new "Guangzhou-Zhongshan-Zhuhai-Macau Intercity Railways" which could further connectivity on the west bank of Pearl River Delta.[76]

In November 2008, the transport ministries of Russia and the China signed an agreement to build one more link between the railway systems of the two countries. One project involves the Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye railway bridge across the Heilongjiang (Amur) River, connecting Tongjiang in Heilongjiang Province with Nizhneleninskoye, a village in Russia's Jewish Autonomous Oblast. The project construction began in 2014 and was estimated to be complete in year 2016, however the project had been halted by funding problems and construction delay by Russian side. Additional funding have been injected to the project in year 2017 which resolved the funding problem, and the project is currently estimated to be complete in year 2018.[77][78][79][80]

Additionally, a high speed rail link between Hunchun and Vladivostok have been proposed and discussed.[81]Hunchun and Vladivostok have been proposed and discussed.[81][82][83][84]

In October 2014, the Mongolian parliament approved two standard gauge cross-border railways to China.[85][86] One line would run 240 kilometres (150 mi) from the Tavan Tolgoi coalfields of Ömnögovi Province to the border at Gashuun Suukhait and cross into China at Ganqimaodu in Urad Middle Banner, part of Inner Mongolia's Bayan Nur Municipality.[85][86] The other would run from central Mongolia to Bichigt in Sükhbaatar Province and cross into China at Zhuengadabuqi of East Ujimqin Banner, under Inner Mongolia's Xilingol League.[85][86]

Central AsiaSince 1997, the governments of China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have discussed the building of a 476 kilometres (296 mi) railway across the Tian Shan mountains from Kashgar in the western Tarim Basin of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the Ferghana Valley via southern Kyrgyzstan.[87] In March 2013, the China Road and Bridge Corp., an engineering firm, submitted a feasibility study to the Kyrgyz government, which found the project to be too expensive.[87] In December 2013, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev expressed his preference for an alternative line that would connect the northern and southern halves of the country.[88]

On May 5, 2014, the Export-Import Bank of China lent Uzbekistan $350 million for the construction of a railway through the Kamchik Pass that would connect the Fergana Valley with the rest of Uzbekistan.On May 5, 2014, the Export-Import Bank of China lent Uzbekistan $350 million for the construction of a railway through the Kamchik Pass that would connect the Fergana Valley with the rest of Uzbekistan.[89] On May 12, 2014, China's Paramount leader Xi Jinping and Turkmenistan's president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed a declaration to study the possibility of inviting Chinese companies to build a cross-border railway linking the two countries.[90] On May 22, 2014, the Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan reportedly suggested inviting China to join in another regional railway project linking Russia, Central Asian states and the Persian Gulf.[91]

China and Nepal signed a series of agreements including a railway link connecting Kathmandu to China's railway network in 2018. The China–Nepal Railway will connect Kathmandu and Shigatse, Tibet.[92] Survey of the Kerung-Kathmandu section will be completed by early 2019, and construction is expected to be completed in six years.[93]

Since 2007, Chinese and Pakistani authorities have explored the possibility of building the Khunjerab Railway, which would cross the Karakorum Mountains and connect K

Since 2007, Chinese and Pakistani authorities have explored the possibility of building the Khunjerab Railway, which would cross the Karakorum Mountains and connect Kashgar with Havelian in the Abbottabad District of northern Pakistan. In June 2013, the Pakistani government indicated that the proposed railway could be extended to the Port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.[94] As of February 2014, however, Chinese rail experts said the railway was unlikely to be built in the near term.[94]

Indian and Chinese rail authorities have in several occasions expressed interest in initiating a high-speed rail link that would link Kolkata with Kunming, China via Myanmar.[95][96] The rail link would utilise the under construction railway from Manipur, India to Myanmar and the Dali-Ruili Railway under construction in western Yunnan Province.

Some of the world's longest train journeys by distance travel through China. Beijing-Moscow trains via Harbin (No. 19-20, 8984 km, 144 hours) and Ulan Bator (No. 3-4, 7826 km, 131 hours) are respectively the second and third longest regularly scheduled passenger trains in the world. Only the Moscow-Vladivostok train (9259 km, 178 hours) is longer. Within China, the longest passenger train services are the Z264-Z265 Guangzhou-Lhasa (4980 km, 54 1/2 hours), T206/3-T204/5 Shanghai-Yining (4742 km, 55 2/3 hours), Z136/7-Z138/5 Guangzhou-Ürümqi (4684 km, 49 1/2 hours) and K1121 Harbin-Haikou (4458 km, 65 3/4 hours).[97] In addition, the longest train journey in China by time is K2288/2285 from Changchun to Kunming, with a duration of 68 hours.

The G/403/405 Beijing West - Kunming South train (2760 km, 10 3/4 hours), became the longest high-speed rail service in the world.

The world's longest freight rail service runs from Yiwu, Zhejiang Province in eastern China to The G/403/405 Beijing West - Kunming South train (2760 km, 10 3/4 hours), became the longest high-speed rail service in the world.

The world's longest freight rail service runs from Yiwu, Zhejiang Province in eastern China to Madrid, Spain, a journey of 13,000 km (8,100 mi) over three weeks.[98]