Too early for talks on railway route, protesters told

Updated: 2015-05-19 07:40

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu(China Daily)

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Dazhou-Chongqing intercity line yet to be approved by central, provincial governments

Protesters who took to the streets on Saturday to lobby for the planned Dazhou-Chongqing intercity railway to pass through their county have been told it is too early to discuss the route.

The line is designed to link Dazhou in Sichuan province with neighboring Chongqing. According to a notice on the website of the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission on Monday, the line is "still being planned and has not been approved by the provincial and central governments".

Only after it is approved by the State can the railway route be discussed, said the notice, and then Sichuan will seek suggestions from the public on places the railway should pass through.

The notice was issued in response to the protest in Linshui, a county in Guang'an, on Saturday, when thousands of people took to the streets to voice their views to the Guang'an city government over the rail route. More than 30 policemen and staff members from local government departments, as well as 38 onlookers were injured.

There are two options for the line. One passes through Quxian and Guang'an, the other through Dazhou and Linshui. The Guang'an government supports the first option, but residents in Linshui want the railway to boost economic development in their mountainous county.

The protest was one of several battles waged over railway routes in recent years, said Wang Hong, an information officer in Guang'an.

Dengzhou and Xinye are neighboring counties in Henan province. When the province planned the route of the Zhengzhou-Wanzhou High-Speed Railway last year, people in Xinye started a high-speed railway protection movement. Members drove to different parts of the county, using loudspeakers to chant slogans in support of their chosen station in the county.

Residents in Dengzhou who worked outside their home county put up banners at railway stations in major cities appealing for a station to be built in their town.

Finally, authorities in Henan compromised and set up a station between the two counties.

In March, about 100,000 residents of Shaoyang, a less-developed city in Hunan province, chanted, "The mayor has to step down if the Shanghai-Kunming High-Speed Railway does not have a station in Shaoyang," according to

After both Shaoyang and its competitor Loudi, also a less-developed city in Hunan, lobbied fiercely, authorities agreed to set up a station in both cities.

"The reason why people take to the streets and their local governments lobby to win support of governments at higher levels is that they saw thriving cities and counties with only waterways go into decline as they lacked modern transportation facilities such as the railway," said Wang Zhaomin.

He is the executive deputy mayor of Xiangyang in Hubei province and his city managed to win a station on the Zhengzhou-Chongqing Railway last year, beating its neighbor and competitor Shiyang.

Cao Jun, an official with the Chengdu Railway Administration in Sichuan, said authorities had to consider people's suggestions and the cost of construction when planning railway routes.

(China Daily 05/19/2015 page5)