China plans to build 42 high-speed railway lines by 2012 in a massive system overhaul that is part of efforts to spur economic growth amid the global downturn.
Zhang Shuguang, deputy chief engineer at the railways ministry, said that China hopes to have added 13,000 kilometers (8,060 miles) of fast lines to its massive rail network in three years.
The tracks would be capable of handling trains running at up to 350 kilometers per hour and China would then have four north-south and four east-west high-speed rail arteries.
Construction on the third east-west artery has already started and will link up with the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line, which is due to become operational next year, in the eastern city of Nanjing.
The new tracks would mean the travel time from Beijing to the central hub city of Wuhan would be more than halved to around four hours.
Zhang Shuguang said, "China has the most advanced high-speed rail technology in the world" and would have the capacity to carry seven billion passengers a year between 2011 and 2012.
And then he said a train that can travel at 500 kilometers-per-hour will be tested at the end of 2010.
AFP reports Beijing has said it will invest at least RMB2 trillion ($293 billion) in railway construction over the next three years. China’s railway network is already one of the most extensive in the world.
By the end of this year, China will have a total of 86,000 kilometers of railway lines, second only to the United States. The nation aims to have 120,000 kilometres of track laid down by 2020.