WUHAN, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of workers have started laying down tracks for a section of the Menghua railway in central China's Hubei Province.
With an annual delivery capacity of 150 million tonnes, the 1,837-km railway linking north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and east China's Jiangxi Province is soon to be the longest heavy-loaded railway in China.
It is expected to become a new passage for freight, linking the northern and central regions.
"It will bring coal from the north, and carry industrial and farm products along the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway, to the north," said Luo Lijun, deputy general manager of 3rd Engineering Co. Ltd of 11th Bureau Group, under China Railway.
"Hubei will become the intersection of Menghua railway and the Yangtze River economic belt," Luo said.
The province has been improving its transportation infrastructure to embrace increased traffic. A Hubei-centered high-speed railway network enables trains departing from the province to reach 70 percent of Chinese cities within four hours.
There are nearly 150 international and regional air routes connecting the province with the world.
As an active participant of the Belt and Road Initiative, more freight trains will depart from the central province to Europe this year.
About 1150 freight trains are expected to head to Europe from Wuhan, capital of Hubei, in 2018, compared with 377 in 2017, which carried a total of 34,000 containers.
Hubei, whose GDP hit 3.6 trillion yuan (537 billion U.S. dollars) last year, is pursuing high-quality growth and aims to be a key economic powerhouse along the Yangtze River with wider opening-up.
"As an inland province, opening-up is not easy for us. We need to learn from reform and opening-up experience of other provinces and explore new ways according to our own condition," said Zhong Fuping, an official of the Wuhan section of the Hubei free trade zone, inaugurated last year.
In June, the province invested more than 5.5 billion yuan to build a bonded area in Yichang City, the second such area in the free trade zone.
More than 13,000 new market entities in industries like semiconductor, software, new energy vehicles, and biomedicine have been set up in Hubei's FTZ, which also has sections in Xiangyang and Yichang.
"I hope that countries around the world can deepen cooperation in a wide range of fields with Hubei, including various industries, economy and trade, science and education, people-to-people and cultural exchange and tourism. I believe we can achieve mutual benefit and a win-win outcome," said Jiang Chaoliang, Party chief of the province at a promotion event for Hubei at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, on Thursday.