U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 49 mins

China to invest $100 billion in new rail lines this year

A worker walks in the foundation of a new railway line in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, May 21, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will spend over $100 billion on more than 6,600 km (4,100 miles) of new railway lines this year, Xinhua news agency said, citing a senior industry official.

The general manager of the state-owned China Railway Corporation (CRC), Sheng Guangxu, was quoted as saying that the bulk of the 630 billion yuan ($104.11 billion) investment would be in the underdeveloped central and western regions.

It said CRC had already put 5,586 km of rail lines into operation since its formation last March following the dissolution of the Ministry of Railways.

China abolished the ministry in March and transferred its regulatory duties to the Ministry of Transportation.

The sector was plagued with allegations of waste and corruption that culminated in the sentencing of former minister Liu Zhijun in July on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

CRC has already started construction on 49 new railway projects involving 663.8 billion yuan of investment.

China had more than 100,000 km of railway in operation by the end of 2013, 10 percent of which was for high speed trains, Xinhua said. ($1 = 6 yuan)

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Nick Macfie)