China approves $8bn inter-city rail plan

Shanghai - China has approved a $8.06bn plan to build an inter-city rail network in its western Shaanxi province as it looks to improve transport links in its less-developed inland regions, state-run regional media said.

The project, approved by the National Development and Reform Commission on Thursday, will see the government invest in five projects to build 436 km of rail lines across Shaanxi's Guanzhong region, the Shaanxi Daily newspaper said.

The official Xinhua news agency confirmed the approval without stating an investment value for the project. It said that by 2030 the province would have rail lines spanning 1 484 km centred around Shaanxi's capital of Xi'an.

Shaanxi, which was the eastern terminus of China's ancient Silk Road trading link with Europe, is key to recent government plans to build a Silk Road economic belt connecting China to other Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and parts of Europe.

China has invested billions in expanding its railway network, in part to support growth as the country's economy slows. It had a combined railway network of over 100 000 km by the end of last year, 10% of which was high-speed rail, Xinhua reported.

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