China will make its highest rail investment ever in 2010, $120.6bn (CNY823.5bn), according to Railways Minister Liu Zhijun.

This is up from $87.88bn (CNY600bn) in 2009, which was a 79% increase from 2008.

Nearly 70 new railway projects are expected to break ground in 2010 and by 2012, the country’s total length of railways would exceed 110,000km, including 13,000km of high-speed lines, up from 86,000km at the end of 2009.

Between 2012 and 2020, another 7,000km of conventional lines and 3,000km of high-speed lines are planned to be built and by 2020, over 80% of the network is planned to be electrified.

“The years from 2010 to 2012 are key in the modernisation of China’s railway system. The industry’s development is entering a new phase and will face tough new challenges,” said Liu.