China steps up railway industry reform

China will further step up efforts to promote the separation of administration and management in the country's railway industry, according to an economic planning official.

China will speed up industry reform, including that of the railway industry, said Peng Sen, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC), on Thursday.

Over the next five years,the country will move further to separate government functions from enterprise management and seek a wider range of investors in the industries of railway, telecommunications, salt and oil, according to Peng.

Currently, the Ministry of Railway (MOR) is completely responsible for implementation of railway regulations and rail construction. It plans railway lines, selects construction companies through public bidding and supervises rail construction projects.

By the end of 2010, the length of China's railways in operation reached 91,000 km, the second longest in the world following the United States, but the length of its high-speed rail ranks first.

The volume of rail passengers and transport of goods, the length of rail in operation and the amount of investment poured into the industry are all likely to increase year on year in 2011, the ministry's statistics show.

China not only has the world's longest and highest railway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, but also has the most heavy-duty rail.

The country also holds the world record for "the fastest operational high-speed train." The record was set when testing trains along the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed railway.

Running 1,318-km in length, the Shanghai-Beijing high-speed connection links the country's two most important cities and is scheduled to open in June.

In March, China's top auditing body said that 187 million yuan had been embezzled from the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project.

( Xinhua, April 8, 2011 )