Lanzhou-Chongqing railroad opens

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By TAN YINGZI in Chongqing tany­ingzi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

At 8:38 am on Fri­day, a train with about 350 pas­sen­gers de­parted Chongqing Caiyuanba Rail­way Sta­tion, mark­ing the Lanzhou-Chongqing line’s of­fi­cial open­ing.

After the 886-kilo­me­ter rail­way line passes through Sichuan prov­ince, it dips into Shaanxi prov­ince be­fore pass­ing through Gansu to reach Lanzhou, the prov­ince’s cap­i­tal. The project, started in 2008, is the coun­try’s third main north-south rail line after the Bei­jing-Shang­hai and Bei­jing-Guangzhou lines.

This sig­nif­i­cant part of the coun­try’s rail­way net­work speeds up travel be­tween the western re­gions and the rest of the coun­try.

Chongqing, the only provin­cial-level mu­nic­i­pal­ity in western China, is a gate­way to the vast in­land area. Gansu prov­ince is rich in nat­u­ral re­sources but has long been pover­tys­tricken be­cause of poor trans­porta­tion.

The new rail line cuts the dis­tance be­tween the two ci­ties by about 650 kilo­me­ters and travel time from 20 to 13 hours.

It is ex­pected to greatly boost the econ­omy in less de­vel­oped in­land China in com­bi­na­tion with the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt plan.

The line’s de­sign speed is 160 kilo­me­ters per hour with some sec­tions at 200 km/h.

As early as about 100 years ago, Sun Yat-sen (1866-1926), the first pro­vi­sional pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of China, wrote in his book Gen­eral Plan of China that the coun­try should build a rail­way link­ing Lanzhou and Chongqing. Sta­tions along the rail GANSU

But com­pli­cated geographic con­di­tions mean the project is con­sid­ered the most dif­fi­cult one in China’s rail­way con­struc­tion his­tory.

Thanks to ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, work­ers have built 226 tun­nels and 396 bridges to pass through the moun­tains and rivers, es­pe­cially the Qin- ling Moun­tains, a ma­jor eastwest moun­tain range in south­ern Shaanxi prov­ince.

Be­cause more than 72 per­cent of the line is bridges and tun­nels, safety has been the most im­por­tant is­sue, ac­cord­ing to train crew su­per­vi­sor Tian Yu, a long­time rail­way worker.

“When pass­ing through the tun­nels, the neg­a­tive wind pres­sure can eas­ily hurt peo­ple who stand at the junc­tion of two rail cars,” he said.

“Our staff needs to pay more at­ten­tion to ed­u­cat­ing pas­sen­gers about safety is­sues.”

Also Fri­day, a freight train loaded with 290 au­to­mo­biles made in Chongqing de­parted from Tuan­jiecun Rail­way Sta­tion for Lanzhou.

The rail line is even­tu­ally ex­pected to trans­port 50 mil­lion tons of cargo ev­ery year and op­er­ate 50 pas­sen­ger round-trips ev­ery day.

Lanzhou Weiyuan Long­nan Guangyuan Cangxi Nan­chong SICHUAN Wusheng Chongqing

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