* Plan will span nine projects, with total length of 1,100
* Projects to be built over the years to 2020 - economic
(Adds context, comments and market reactions)
SHANGHAI Nov 28 China has approved a
247-billion-yuan ($36-billion) railway plan to improve transport
links between the capital Beijing, the port city of Tianjin, and
the neighbouring province of Hebei, part of plans to integrate
the three areas into a mega-city.
The plan will span nine projects that total 1,100 km (683
miles) in length, the country's powerful economic planner, the
National Development and Reform Commission, said in an online
statement on Monday.
The projects will be built over the years to 2020, and are
part of a wider plan that will stretch to 2030, it added.
The current population of the three areas is estimated at
around 110 million, and by the time the plan is complete, the
so-called Jing-Jin-Ji project will span 212,000 sq km (82,000 sq
miles), or more than twice the size of South Korea.
The expanding railway networks have cut commute time in the
region significantly, said Steven McCord, research head at real
estate service firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
"It was not possible to go all the way from Beijing to
Binghai and that's a one-hour trip now. It's now also possible
to go between Tianjin and Tangshan in less than 30 minutes,
which was previously several hours' drive," he said.
"I think there are few places in the world that have that
kind of integration. It has made it much easier to do business."
The news helped push up shares of firms that stand to
benefit from the plan.
Shares of China State Construction Engineering Corp
soared 10 percent in Shanghai trading, while China
Communications Construction Co surged 6.5 percent.
Shares of China Railway Construction Corp rose
5.5 percent and China Railway Group Ltd gained 4
($1=6.9018 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Brenda Goh, Ryan Woo and Yawen Chen; Editing by
Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)