SHANGHAI China extended its rail network by about 3,000 km (1,865 miles)in 2016, about 10 percent of the total new rail lines expected in the government's current five-year plan from 2016 to 2020, according to official figures.
Yang Yudong, China's vice-minister of transport and the head of the country's railway bureau, told a briefing on Thursday the rail network totalled 124,000 km (77,000 miles) by end-2016, including 20,000 km (12,400 miles) of high-speed connections.
China plans to invest 3.5 trillion yuan ($500 billion) on new railway construction over the 2016-2020 period and increase its network to a total length of 150,000 km (93,200 miles), according to a five-year plan published earlier this year.
Yang said China would encourage the use of public-private partnerships in rail investment.
On Wednesday, China formally opened a new 1,400-mile (2,250 km) high-speed railway connecting the southwestern city of Kunming with Shanghai on the eastern coast.
It aims to complete plans to criss-cross the country with four north-south and four east-west bullet train connections by the end of the decade. Two of the connections have yet to be built.
China spent 3.58 trillion yuan over 2011-2015 to build 30,000 km (18,600 miles) of new tracks, Yang said.
($1 = 6.9535 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Richard Pullin)