Ca­ble­way de­mo­li­tion pits nos­tal­gia against ef­fi­ciency

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By LUO WANG­SHU and JI JIN in Chongqing Con­tact the writ­ers at luowang­shu@chi­ and ji­jin@chi­ Tan Yingzi con­trib­uted to this story.

The dis­man­tling of China’s first cross-river ca­ble­way has pro­voked de­bate on mod­ern ur­ban plan­ning and the preser­va­tion of city sym­bols.

Dis­man­tling of the Jial­ing River Ca­ble­way in Chongqing be­gan on Dec 23, nearly three years af­ter it was last used in early 2011.

“The ca­ble­way will be re­placed by a new cross-river bridge, which will be more ef­fi­cient,” said Yang Bin, deputy gen­eral engi­neer of the Chongqing Ar­chi­tec­tural De­sign In­sti­tute.

The 740-me­ter-long Jial­ing River Ca­ble­way, which started op­er­a­tion in 1982, func­tioned as a main trans­porta­tion means for res­i­dents trav­el­ing be­tween Yuzhong dis­trict and Jiang­bei dis­trict, es­pe­cially be­fore 1999, when a cross-river bridge con­nect­ing the two was opened.

The ca­ble­way car­ried more than 100 mil­lion pas­sen­gers over 29 years, with a peak daily pas­sen­ger flow of 25,400, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany that op­er­ated the ser­vice.

Many peo­ple do not want to say good­bye to the ca­ble­way.

Huang Mu, a 29- year- old Chongqing na­tive, left her home­town 10 years ago and now works in Shen­zhen.

“With­out all the fa­mil­iar sights, where do my friends and I mark our wild youth?” she said. “My home­town has be­come vague to me. I am al­most a stranger to the city.”

The ca­ble­way, which ap­peared in many movies as a sym­bol of Chongqing, is a pop­u­lar tourist site.

The ser­vice gave its last rides on Feb 28, 2011. About 12,000 lo­cals lined up to cross the river, ac­cord­ing to the ca­ble­way com­pany.

The ca­ble­way was named as a citylevel cul­tural relic in 2011, ac­cord­ing to the city’s cul­tural relics bureau.

Dur­ing 2012, in meet­ings of the Chongqing Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence and the Chon­qing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress in Chongqing, mem­bers sug­gested that the Jial­ing River Ca­ble­way should be restarted as a tourist at­trac­tion.

How­ever, pragmatism beat ro­mance.

The Sichuan Min­ing Group is in charge of dis­man­tling the ca­ble­way. A man­ager named Wu said the de­mo­li­tion will be fin­ished af­ter the Chi­nese New Year.

“We will care­fully re­move the parts of the ca­ble­way. Im­por­tant parts, in­clud­ing ropes and the car­riage, will be sent to a mu­seum for pro­tec­tion,” Wu said, adding that the north ter­mi­nal will also be pre­served, but the south ter­mi­nal will be taken down.

Li Shenghu, a re­searcher from the Shap­ingba cul­tural relics bureau in Chongqing, said pre­serv­ing parts of the ca­ble­way is a good idea.

“The ca­ble­way is not a his­tor­i­cal relic by the stan­dard def­i­ni­tion. It is not unique and it only has a 31-year his­tory,” Li said.

How­ever, Yang Bin, the engi­neer, be­lieved it would have been pos­si­ble to keep the ca­ble­way op­er­at­ing if planned early.


The Jial­ing River Ca­ble­way, a sym­bol of Chongqing, was last used in early 2011. Part of the ca­ble­way, cur­rently be­ing dis­man­tled, will be pre­served in a mu­seum.

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