China’s state planner National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) has approved a CNY85.1bn ($12.86bn) high-speed rail project in the southwestern part of the country.
The project will connect Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, with the cities through to Chongqing municipality, Reuters reported citing an NDRC statement.
Overall, the project will involve the construction of 270-miles (432.4km) of railway.
The step comes days after China began construction work on a major railway link in Tibet that will connect Sichuan province with Nyingchi.
The project involves strategic importance as it will enable railway connectivity up to the Indian border amid ongoing tensions between the two neighbours.
According to Global Times, Chinese President Xi Jinping called the project a major step to support ‘economic and social development of the western region’, as well as ‘in safeguarding national unity’.
The 1,011km-long Sichuan-Tibet Railway will connect Ya’an in Sichuan Province and Nyingchi in Tibet Autonomous Region in south-west China.
The project is anticipated to face construction challenges due to the rough terrain and complicated geological and climatic conditions in the region.
Once complete, the rail link will be the second railway connection in Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opened in 2006.
The project is expected to be completed in 2030. A section of the rail link, which runs between Chengdu and Ya’an, became operational in December 2018.
Last month, China’s state-owned rolling stock manufacturer CRRC unveiled a new high-speed train system for cross-border operations. The train is capable of running on different track gauges.