Express railway link on schedule

A key express railway project linking Beijing to Shanghai took a major step forward yesterday when workers finished the steel structure of a railway station in west Shanghai's Hongqiao Integrated Transport Hub.

The builders estimated in August that the structure would be finished by the end of September, more than a month ahead of schedule. But Shanghai Railway Bureau publicity official Tao Liping said: "The project has not been delayed. The construction is right on schedule."

Authorities said the interior decoration starts today in Hongqiao Railway Station which is expected to be operational by next July.

Nearly 80,000 tons of steel, almost double that used in the Beijing National Stadium, the bird's nest, have been used in the 240,000-square-meter station, making it the biggest in the city.

The station, the Shanghai end of the rail link, is designed to carry 52.72 million passengers each year after completion. The volume will increase to 78.38 million in the long term.

The 1,318-kilometer Shanghai-Beijing express railway is expected to become the primary rail artery between the capital city and Shanghai, featuring speeds of 350 kilometers per hour. A trip between Shanghai and Beijing will take only about five hours on the future link, less than about half of the current 10 to 12 hours.

The under-construction Hongqiao Integrated Transport Hub, connected to Hongqiao International Airport, will serve as host station for the express railway as well as for future high-speed trains from Shanghai to Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.