The People’s Republic of China (PRC) will receive a $200 million loan from the World Bank to help finance construction of the Zhangjiakou–Huhehaote (ZhangHu) Railway in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia). The railway project aims to improve accessibility and mobility of the region by providing additional railway capacity and reducing transport time for passengers and freight.
The ZhangHu Railway will stretch along the Huhehaote (Hohhot)–Zhangjiakou corridor, which is along the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program’s Corridor 4, and further to Beijing. The railway 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 diversifying Inner Mongolia’s economy.
Travel time between Inner Mongolian cities will be significantly reduced, benefiting passengers and companies. For example, a usual 3-hour travel time between Hohhot and Jining will be reduced to about 45 minutes. Passenger travel is expected to reach 9 million by 2020 and further rise to 12 million in 2030.
Project manager World Bank’s Lead Transport Specialist John Scales said that the PRC has been “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 for generations to come.”
With total project investment of over $4.5 billion, the ZhangHu Railway is one of the new railway lines proposed in the PRC’s Mid- and Long-term Railway Network Plan which will increase the country’s rail network to 120,000 kilometers (km) by 2020, including 16,000 km of high-speed passenger rail.
The railway project will cover the construction of a 286 km electrified double-track, passenger-dedicated high-speed rail line between Hohhot and Zhangjiakou. It will also construct, renovate, or rehabilitate three of the six stations along this line; acquire and install goods, maintenance equipment, and rolling stock; and include land acquisition and resettlement. This railway line is an extension of the planned high-speed Intercity Beijing–Zhangjiakou Railway.
The World Bank loan will finance the procurement of goods associated with the construction of the line and with its electrification, signaling, and communication systems, as well as operation and maintenance equipment and possibly technical assistance on policy aspects.
Implementation will begin in the second half of 2012. The construction period is expected to be 4 years with construction planned to begin in June 2013, and the line opened to traffic in June 2017.