China's railway operator to increase investment in 2014

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's national railway operator will raise its annual investment by 20 billion yuan (S$4.04 billion) to 720 billion yuan in 2014 to increase the number of lines it plans to build, the head of the company said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Sheng Guangzu, general manager of China Railway Corp, was quoted by the official People's Daily as saying that the company is targetting starting construction of 48 railway projects this year, up from 44 projects in its previous plan.

Increased construction of railway lines is one of the measures the government has recently announced to boost economic growth, which is rising at its slowest rate in at a least a decade as the country moves towards consumption-driven growth.

"Quickening the construction of railway lines could increase the effective demand for steel products, cement and other building materials and help tackle overcapacity problems," Sheng was quoted as saying.

China also plans to increase the total length of railway lines being laid to more than 7,000 kilometres this year, up at least 25 per cent from actual construction finished last year, Sheng said.

China's cabinet said last week that railway investment will be partly financed by bank loans, while the authorities will also create a fund worth 200 billion yuan to 300 billion yuan each year that is open to private investors.

For this year, the government will also sell 150 billion yuan worth of bonds to pay for over 6,600 kilometres of new railway track.

Railway investment reached 61 billion yuan in the first three months this year, up 9 percent from the same time last year, the paper quoted Sheng as saying.

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