By Nick Butler

World famous actor Jackie Chan is recording a song for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic bid ©Getty ImagesConstruction of a high-speed railway line linking the two proposed Olympic and Paralympic venues of Beijing and Zhangjiakou will start this year and should be completed in 2019, it has been announced.

The news, which comes less than a fortnight before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission is due to visit to follow a similar inspection to rival bidder Almaty last month, was announced by Beijing Railway Bureau vice-chief executive, Zhu Huigang.

The 174 kilometers-long line will have nine stations between Beijing North and Zhangjiakou South and is scheduled to be completed in four-and-a-half years, so will have already been in operation for over two years by the time of the Games. 

Trains between the ice sport venue in the capital and the mountain sport venue in Zhangjiakou, the city 190km to the northwest, currently take at least three hours but would be reduced to 50 minutes on the new railway, it is claimed. 

With the construction taking place regardless of whether the bid is successful, this will be a major legacy benefit of the Games, although the large spending required hardly conforms with the themes of affordability prioritised in the IOCs Agenda 2020 reform process.

The high speed train line should take hours off distances from Beijing to the mountain venue at Zhangjiakou ©Beijing 2022The high speed train line should take hours off distances from Beijing to the mountain venue at Zhangjiakou ©Beijing 2022

Meanwhile, actor Jackie Chan has spent time this week recording a song, entitled "Wake up Winter", which will be the "official theme song" for Beijing's bid.

"'Wake up Winter' is actually a call to people around the world, an incessant eagerness for the Olympic Spirit and a longing for friendship between people and countries," songwriter Wang Jiuping said.

Among other well-known musicians involved in the song is Zhao Jialin, one of the main composers for the the hit "Little Apple", the most popular song in China last year.

Beijing 2022 are keen to emphasise how the bid - which is seeking to raise the popularity of winter sport in the world's most populous nation - is already having a good impact, with this week's Junior World Snowboard Championships taking place in China for the first time, some 1,400km northeast of Beijing in Yabuli.

The Chinese bid is still seen as favourite in the two-horse race, although is being increasingly challenged by a Kazakh attempt claiming to be the most compact Olympic bid since Innsbruck 1976.

The IOC Evaluation Commission, led by Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, is due to take place from March 24 to 28, with reports on both inspections due to be released on June 1.

The two cities are then scheduled to present to the IOC members at a Candidate City Briefing in Lausanne on June 8, with a final decision as to which city will host the 2022 Games then due to be made at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.