The State Council has approved a guideline on railway planning and construction to promote high-quality development, according to a circular released by the General Office of the State Council on March 29.
The guideline was issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Transport, the National Railway Administration and China State Railway Group Co Ltd (China Railway).
The guideline sets priorities for making national-level railway development plans. Mid-to long-term plans should focus on development strategy, railway network structure, and the functions of railway lines. They should also determine the spatial layout of infrastructure and leave space for railway construction’s long-term development.
The five-year plans should make arrangements in stages for development tasks, project schedules, and construction standards, among other matters.
National-level planning should properly locate modern integrated transport hubs, improve structures of high and regular-speed railways, and coordinate development between passenger and cargo transportation.
The guideline specifies sources of financing for construction depending on the type of railways. Trunk railway lines should be jointly funded by central and local governments, with China Railway leading project construction and operation while attracting private capital to support well-performing projects.
Other projects, such as intercity, citywide and suburban railways, should mainly be financed by local governments and enterprises. There are no specific restrictions on how to construct or operate them.
To control construction costs and ensure financial balance while meeting major national strategies, the guideline requires stringent project reviews and effective technical and economic assessments. Construction standards and compensation rates for land expropriations and housing demolitions should also be reasonable.
The guideline calls for completely opening up the market of railway construction and operation; the investment and financing system in the railway sector should be further reformed. Shareholding reform in railway enterprises and listing of high-quality assets should be accelerated.
According to the guideline, China Railway should make good use of funds earmarked for railway construction and enhance capital contributions. Local regions should harness special local government bonds and private investments to fund railway projects. In addition, related State departments should allocate more from the central budget to invest in railway projects in central and western areas.