The year 2013 was a year unlike any other for China Railways. This was the final year which saw the existence of the previous Railways Ministry. The new successor organisation, China Railway Corporation, became a non-government entity (but was still funded and held by the Chinese central government).
A summary of the past year’s activities and what to expect for the new year (2014) were key topics at China Railway Corporation’s first-ever general annual Work Conference. There, railways chief Sheng Guangzu delivered a speech outlining what to expect. Here’s a brief run-through of the key points.
LOOKING BACK AT 2013
- Railways Ministry dismantled; administrative tasks transferred to National Railway Bureau (also known as the National Railway Administration), which is under the Transport Ministry; other, mostly operational / business tasks transferred to China Railway Corporation. Both were new entities. General planning powers handed over to the Transport Ministry.
- Chinese railways grew significantly: by the end of the year, two milestones — 100,000+ km (62,500+ miles) of general operations tracks and, inside of that, 10,000+ km (6,250+ miles) of HSR, were in operation. (New definitions excluded routes accelerated for 200 km/h, or 125 mph.)
- Over 2 billion passengers took the train for 2013. Peak travel periods saw up to 10 million on the move on the same day.
- Over 3.2 billion tonnes of freight were transported.
GOALS FOR 2014
- China Railways is to move closer to the market, and be run more like an enterprise. Further internal, structural reforms are to be expected.
- More focus on security; this includes making security checks permanent rather than something that happened at a particular time.
- More business for the railways: 2014 should see up to 2.27 billion passengers (an increase of 10% year-on-year) and 3.28 billion tonnes of freight (a rise of 2% year-on-year) on the rails.
- More railway lines added to the network. A total of over 6,600 km (4,125 miles) of new track are expected to be built and put into operation. Investment this year for the railways is expected to be RMB 630 billion.
- Improvements on railway technology and railway information development.
- More international business for the railways, with lines to extend to neighbouring countries. Also planned: more international collaborations.
- More improvements for railway staff.
Most of the new lines to be opened will likely be in central and western China, as HSR lines have already been added en masse for eastern China.