See if you can spot which high speed rail line does not belong.
How about the only track on the western half of the country, which runs from Lanzhou to Xinjiang “through 1,800 km of deserts in the most sparsely populated part of China”?
Investment bank Jefferies singled out this track as the worst excess in China’s so-called Great Rail Leap Forward.
Costs were estimated at 144 billion yuan ($23 billion) when construction began in 2009, but they are likely to have run over. South Asia Analysis Group has more:
According to [Chief engineer] Ren, building the line through difficult terrain like in the Qilian Mountain area requires twice as much investment compared with similar high-speed line construction on low-level flat areas…
A senior researcher with the China Academy of Railway Sciences told Xinhua, on condition of anonymity, that it will be difficult to make money from building such a line.
It’s more of a political thing, he said. It’s more about national defence and ethnic unity.
There already was a non-high-speed-rail connection to Xinjiang, which served more than adequately to transport oil and coal from the distant province.
Finally the new train required a 67km wall to shield against strong winds from the Gobi Desert, which toppled a train in 2007. Due to wind concerns the maximum speed on the line was reduced from 300km per hour to 250km per hour.
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