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Section of Beijing-HK rail starts construction

Construction began on Wednesday on a high-speed passenger rail line linking Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, and the Yangtze River port city Wuhan, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said.

The 840.7-km long line is part of a new 2,300-km route that connects Beijing with Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong in southern China.

The Shijiazhuan-Wuhan section is expected to open in four and a half years.

An estimated investment of 116.76 billion yuan ($17.2 billion)is needed for the project which will be jointly funded by the MOR and the governments of the Hebei, Henan and Hubei provinces.

The rail line is designed to run up to 350 km per hour. It will be able to transport 80 million passengers each year in one direction.

The new line section will have 14 stations, the MOR said.

Once completed, the entire Beijing-Guangzhou-Hongkong line will be almost parallel to the existing Beijing-Guangzhou line.

Construction on another section of railway, from Beijing to Shijiazhuang, kicked off a week ago. It should also be completed in four years, the MOR said.

Construction on the Wuhan to Guangzhou section started in June 2005. It is scheduled to begin operating in 2010.

The MOR wants to build 9,800 km of passenger rail lines in China as part of its five-year (2006-2010) plan.

(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2008)