State-owned China Railway Corp (CRC), the operator of the world's most modernized high-speed railroad, said on Wednesday that it aims to put 3,200 kilometers of new high-speed rail lines into operation in 2019.
At its annual work conference held in Beijing on Wednesday, the company said work on railway-related infrastructure will be kept at a high intensity in 2019, and new lines with a total length of 6,800 kilometers will be put into operation.
The figure will be a significant increase from last year's 4,683 kilometers of railroad, which included 4,100 kilometers of high-speed railway lines.
Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times that the targets indicate fixed-asset investment in new railroads in 2019 will be in the range of 800 billion yuan ($116.7 billion) to 1 trillion yuan.
"There is an increase in the length of normal-speed lines at the expense of high-speed lines, meaning an adjustment in investment," Zhao said, noting that investment could go to normal-speed passenger trains and cargo trains.
Cargo railways are a weak link in the rail system as China wants to shift more road transport to railways, Zhao noted.
The announcement comes as China fast-tracks infrastructure projects as part of its efforts to shore up slowing fixed-asset investment.
In 2018, China's railway sector's fixed-asset investment totaled 802.8 billion yuan, of which 760.3 billion yuan was State-led, according to CRC on Wednesday. Construction on 26 projects began in 2018.
Also, CRC said it will make a maximum effort to ensure the planning of the Sichuan-Tibet railway goes smoothly. It aims to complete a whole-route feasibility study by the end of the second quarter of 2019 and seek approval from the central government in the third quarter. It hopes to complete initial designs for key sections of the railway project such as tunnels and bridges and make sure they are ready for construction by the third quarter.
CRC said it is using railway infrastructure investment as a way to aid the nation's poverty alleviation efforts. In 2018, railway-related infrastructure investment worth 413.96 billion yuan, or 77.6 percent of the national total, was completed in the nation's underdeveloped regions, revolutionary bases, border regions and areas inhabited by ethnic minority groups.
China had a high-speed rail network of about 29,000 kilometers and total railways of 131,000 kilometers as of the end of 2018.