China plans 6,800 km of new rail track in 2019 amid infrastructure push

Workers cross the tracks at the maintenance and repair depot of China Railway High-speed (CRH) rail service during a media tour in Beijing, China, August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China plans to invest in 6,800 kilometers (4,225 miles) worth of new railway lines in 2019, a 40 percent jump from the length of tracks laid last year, the national railway operator said on Wednesday amid a wider push to boost infrastructure spending.

At least 3,200 kilometers of this target will be high-speed rail, the China Railway Corp said in a post on its official WeChat account.

China Railway Corp said it invested in 4,683 kilometers worth of new rail lines last year, of which 4,100 were high-speed rail.

The country invested 802.9 billion yuan ($117.12 billion) in rail fixed assets in 2018, the company added. It had set an initial budget of 732 billion yuan in January last year.

It did not give an investment target for 2019.

China has spent billions of dollars in its railway network over the past decade, but there have been signs that this was starting to slow as the network grew and Beijing began to crack down on local government debt. Its 2018 investment target was its lowest since 2013.

However, the government began to speed up investment spending in the second half of last year in a bid to spur growth in the country’s slowing economy by approving new railway projects and reviving suspended ones.

($1 = 6.8556 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Brenda Goh, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips