According to a report in the official Communist Party of China newspaper People's Daily, CRC chairman Mr Sheng Guangzu said that funds will allow construction to begin on four more railways this year, taking the total number of projects underway to 48.

China's state council said last week that it is encouraging banks to provide loans for railway projects in an effort to broaden the range of financing options available for the expansion of the network. The government is also planning to create an annual rail development fund worth up to Yuan 300bn which is intended to attract private investors.

CRC expects to open 7000km of new lines this year. According to Sheng, railway investment in the first quarter increased by 9% year-on-year to Yuan 61bn.