WORK has begun on a Yuan 5.69bn ($US 785.9m) project to upgrade the 258.25km line from Jiamusi in China’s Heilongjiang province to the transhipment terminal at Tongjiang on the Russian border.

The project is expected to take three years to complete. It will raise freight capacity from 18.8 million to 37.2 million tonnes a year, relieving a major bottleneck in one of China’s principal routes to Russia and western Europe.

Work will include increasing capacity for handling containers at Tongjiang, as well improving facilities for handling bulk freight traffic, including coal and iron ore.

In addition to improving freight facilities, the upgrade also includes building seven new stations. Infrastructure work will enable the journey time for passengers between Jiamusi and Tongjiang to be cut from 4h 25min to 3h 5min.

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