On 15 March the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of US$200 million to the People’s Republic of China to help finance construction of the ZhangHu Railway to improve accessibility and mobility of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The ZhangHu Railway Project is designed to respond to existing and anticipated transport demand along the Huhehaote-Zhangjiakou (and further to Beijing) corridor through the provision of additional railway capacity and the reduction of transport time for passengers and freight. The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is growing rapidly in terms of its urban population and industrial production, placing overwhelming demand on the existing transport infrastructure.
The project will provide a direct link between Inner Mongolia to Beijing and enable the dramatic shortening of travel distances. This will have a transformational impact on the region’s accessibility and long-term railway competitiveness. The new line will free up capacity on the existing line for international freight traffic to and from neighboring Mongolia, as well as for more general and containerized rail freight that will assist in the diversification of the Inner Mongolian economy. For passengers on this new dedicated passenger rail line, travel time between a number of Inner Mongolian cities will be reduced significantly. For example, travel time between Jining and Huhehaote will be shortened from three hours to about 45 minutes.
With total project investment of over US$ 4.5 billion, ZhangHu Railway is one of the new railway lines proposed in China’s Mid- and Long-term Railway Network Plan which will increase the country’s rail network to 120,000 km by 2020 including 16,000 km of high-speed passenger rail.
“China is undergoing the world’s largest national railway development program for more than a century and this program will have a profound impact on the character of transport in China for generations to come. The ZhangHu Railway project, as with our other Bank-financed railway projects in China, not only provides regional benefits to people and economies but also provides a platform for continued and informed high-level engagement between the Bank and the Government of China on railway and transport policy”, said World Bank’s Lead Transport Specialist John Scales who manages the project.
The World Bank has been working with China’s Ministry of Railways for nearly thirty years. With this 15th loan to the sector, the Bank will have lent over US$3.7 billion in support of China railway development. The Bank has combined support to the physical development of the Chinese railway system with a wide range of analytical and advisory activities that contribute to the railway system’s transformation.
(Source: World Bank)