Construction starts on passenger railway linking Changsha and Kunming

Construction of a high-speed passenger railway linking Changsha city of central China's Hunan Province with Kunming city of the southwestern province Yunnan began Friday.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang attended the launch ceremony of the project and announced the start of construction in Guiyang, capital city of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

The railway linking Kunming and Changsha, 1,167 km in length, is designed for trains traveling at 250 km per hour, and is part of the Shanghai-Kunming Passenger Railway.

Travel time between Kunming and Changsha is expected to be reduced to only four hours from the current 22.8 hours when the railway is completed.

When the project will be finished is not immediately known.

It is estimated the new high-speed railway would carry 60 million passengers from Changsha to Kunming each year when completed.

"The Changsha-Kunming railway will help improve transport between central and southwest China, and it will also beef up connections between the southwest with the prosperous east coast," said Zhang.

The Shanghai-Kunming Passenger Railway would promote industrialization and urbanization of China and the coordinated development between central and western China, Zhang said.

Zhang stressed quality and safety in the railway's construction as many tunnels and bridges would need to be built in the hilly region between Changsha and Kunming.

(Xinhua, March 26, 2010)