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  Train ferry project makes Yantai a transportation hub  



The first train carried by the Yantai-Dalian train ferry arrives in Yantai last November. With the operation of the ferry project, the city of Yantai is expected to become an important transportation hub by the Bohai Strait.

The construction of a train ferry project linking Yantai in Shandong and Dalian in Liaoning is making the Bohai Strait the busiest sea transportation channel in China.

"The project is also expected to make Yantai a more important transportation hub in the Bohai Strait transportation channel, combining railway, highway, seaborne and air transportation networks," said Sun Yongchun, secretary of the Yantai committee of the Communist Party of China.

The train ferry project, with a total investment of 3 billion yuan, began construction in October 2004.

The first train ferry ship, the "Zhongtie Bohai No 1", was put into use last November, marking the beginning of the trial operation of the whole project.

With the completion of such ships as "Zhongtie Bohai No 2" and "Zhongtie Bohai No 3," as well as other infrastructural facilities, the whole project will be completed in July this year.

"The project is expected to connect Northeast China, the Bohai Bay-Rim region and the Yangtze River Delta region, the three important economic zones in China," said Sun.

At present, the three regions' gross domestic product accounts for more than 40 percent of the nation's total.

The project is also a shortcut between the Northeast China and East China regions.

The distance between Yantai and Dalian over sea is only 159.8 kilometers. However, the length of the railways connecting the two cities via the Bohai Bay Rim is 1,801 kilometers. The train ferry project means the transportation distance will be cut by more than 1,600 kilometers.

The Northeast China region is an important manufacturing and agricultural base in China, and the East China region, including Shandong, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang, is one of the most developed regions in the nation.

The economies of Northeast China and East China are highly complementary, resulting in a huge volume of goods flow between the two regions.

In 2005, the goods flow via railway between Shandong and Northeast China reached more than 18 million tons. Goods flow via railway between Northeast China and the Yangtze River Delta Region, including Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang, hit 20 million tons.

With the operation of the first stage of the Yantai-Dalian train ferry project, about 5 million tons of goods will be transported via the Bohai Strait annually, which means a saving of 2 billion yuan in transportation costs.

The easier transportation facilitated by the project will also promote the growth of the tourism industry.

With the operation of the project, tourism industry in Dalian and Yantai is expected to grow by 10 percent annually, said Sun.

The mayor also said that the Bohai Strait is already one of the busiest sea transportation routes in China.

At present, roll-in-and-roll-out business is the major form of transportation on the Bohai Strait.

During the past 10 years, the roll-in-and-roll-out transportation business on the Bohai Strait has grown by about 10 percent annually.

With the operation of the train ferry project, transportation volume on the Bohai Strait is expected to increase rapidly.

Sun said the project's medium and long-term targets are to carry 8.79 million tons and 12.4 million tons of goods annually.

Sun also revealed that the authorities of Yantai are holding discussions with their counterparts in the Republic of Korea to plan a train ferry project linking Yantai and the Republic of Korea.

Further plans to link Yantai and Japan with a train ferry service are being considered by related parties.





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