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China's bullet trains barrel ahead despite $770bn debt load

Rail network keeps growing as government seeks economic boost

The state-owned company plans an additional 4,000 km of track this year, with a goal of expanding the network to 45,000 km in 2030.   © Reuters

DALIAN, China -- High-speed-rail operator China State Railway Group continues apace with its building despite its ballooning debt, backed by a government that views it as the perfect vehicle to bolster a sagging economy.

"No one is expecting our city to prosper just because we get a new line," said a worker at a grocery store near a train station in Chaoyang, in the northeastern province of Liaoning. Opened in 2018, the station sits in a sleepy area with low passenger traffic and almost no nearby retail shops or hotels. Yet it will host additional service come July.

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