Beijing-Kunming HSR (New Route) Escaping Shijiazhuang?

The city of Shijiazhuang (石家庄) has only been of more recent importance, as it was relatively unknown until the start of the 20th century, when it became where a west-east railway out from Taiyuan (太原) and the major north-south route (Beijing-Guangzhou) crossed paths. The city now hosts some key routes, including the newest addition, a 250 km/h (157 mph) route out from Shijiazhuang to Dezhou (德州) and Ji’nan (济南).

However, a new route, which is expected to be the shorter and faster route from Beijing to Kunming, has been revealed to shun the present-day provincial capital of Hebei (Shijiazhuang) in favour of a part of China just south of Baoding (保定; which was the older provincial capital). Here, the new High Speed route would be a west-east route also heading into the Xiongan (雄安) New Area. Further west, it would head into Shanxi (山西).

The new route would go from Beijing via Xiongan and Baoding to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi, taking a more northernly route, passing via Xinzhou (忻州). Shijiazhuang and Taiyuan are presently linked by High Speed Rail, but this current 2009 route is only designed for speeds up to 250 km/h (157 mph), and at present has services only going as fast as 200 km/h (125 mph).

Needless to say, Shijiazhuang’s officials are unhappy about this. However, ideas have also been floated about upgrading the west-east route out from Taiyuan via Shijiazhuang to Dezhou to 350 km/h — by at least building a new parallel route of a higher standard. (This, in fact, is the arrangement seen on a few crucial routes — Ji’nan to Qingdao (青岛), Guangzhou (广州) to Shenzhen (深圳) and Hong Kong, as well as a few future routes as well.

By David Feng

David Feng — founder and publisher, Tracking China, a Street Level China website.

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