BEIJING, March 5(Xinhua) -- A Chinese railway engineer on Monday warned against a random halt to the country's high-speed railway construction, as it could cause huge losses.
Wang Mengshu, chief engineer of the China Railway Tunnel Group, said China lost more than 100 billion yuan (15.87 billion U.S.dollars) last year when several high-speed railway projects were halted due to a shortage in funding.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
China has planned to build inter-city high-speed railways that could link Beijing and all the provincial capitals, as well as connect provincial capitals with smaller cities, said Wang, who is also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an NPC deputy. ' The government aimed to make railway trips between Beijing and all provincial capitals, except Urumqi and Lhasa in the far west, no more than eight hours, he said.
China's railway sector was hit hard in the second half of 2011, after the government tightened liquidity control and a deadly train collision last July eroded investor confidence and limited the ministry's ability to borrow money or sell bonds.
The funding shortage has delayed the construction of the high-speed railway between Beijing and Guangzhou in the south, and that between Beijing and the northern city of Harbin. Both projects were scheduled to be finished by the end of last year, according to Wang.
China planned to invest 400 billion yuan in railway infrastructure construction in 2012, slightly down from the total expenditure of 469 billion yuan in 2011 and a marked decrease from over 700 billion yuan in 2010, according to the railway ministry.