Project: Harbin-Dalian High Speed Railway

Cost: $14.4 billion

Construction period: 2007-11

China’s high-speed-rail building program is a bold commitment to increase passenger-carrying capacity on major routes while simultaneously freeing up other lines for additional freight service.

One of the routes that is nearing completion is the 904-kilometer line linking the major port of Dalian with Harbin, the commercial hub of northeast China.

The project was split into three separate construction contracts. China Railway Group Ltd. built the southernmost section, spanning 377 km from Dalian to Shenyang. China State Construction Engineering Corp. built the central section, from Shenyang to Siping, and China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. built the northern section, from Siping to Harbin. Track work was completed in December 2010. The China Railway Electrification Bureau Group installed the power supply system and signal transmission systems, completing its work in June 2011.

Service was expected to begin in early 2012, but test operations on the line have been postponed due to quality problems, including excessive roadbed settlement near Dalian City. Further, the quality problems are in part allegedly due to corruption. Du Houzhi, the railway’s general manager, was fired in June and is currently under investigation, according to a report by China News Service.

According to the Ministry of Railways, the line is expected to carry 37 million passengers a year by 2020 and 51 million a year by 2030.

Once the high-speed line goes into service, most passenger service will shift to the new line, relieving pressure on the existing Harbin-Dalian railway, the busiest in the region, which transports coal, oil, agricultural products and lumber. According to a report in Xinhua, the existing line will be able to transport an additional 50 million to 60 million tonnes of cargo once the new high-speed line is operating.