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China Rail Proposal Said to Seek Up to $584 Billion in New Track

  • Draft plan faces debate given China Railway Corp.'s debt load
  • China's legislature will consider final plan next March

China’s railway administration has advocated keeping up the torrid pace of railway construction with a proposal for the government to spend as much as 3.8 trillion yuan ($584 billion) for new track through 2020, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The proposal is one of several under consideration as the country weighs competing desires both to build out its railway network -- now the second biggest in the world -- and to rein in the debt that helped pay for the expansion. The state-owned monopoly that operates China’s rail system, for example, has 4 trillion yuan in outstanding debt.