China’s ambitious high-speed rail network has made another leap forward with the opening of the line linking Baoji city in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province with Lanzhou, the capital of neighboring Gansu Province.
The new route connects northwest China’s Gansu and Qinghai provinces, as well as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, to the country’s rapidly expanding high-speed rail network.
Until the completion of the Baoji-Lanzhou link, the 1,776-kilometer Lanzhou-Xinjiang high-speed rail line in the north western region, which was completed in 2014, was unable to reach central and eastern China.
The new 401-kilometer-long line bridges the gap.
With an operating speed of 250 km per hour, the rail line slashes travel times between Xi’an and Lanzhou to just three hours from the previous six.
Xu Jiangen is the deputy chief engineer of the Xi’an Railway Administration.
Crossing many mountainous regions, 93 percent of the Baoji-Lanzhou railway’s entire length comprises of tunnels and bridge structures, which brought many challenges and slowed down construction.
Among the countless tunnels built during the railway construction phase is China’s first high-risk loess tunnel, currently known as the Shigushan Tunnel.
It is the first tunnel the high-speed trains encounter after leaving Baoji Station.
It stretches for 4,330 meters with a maximum depth of 133 meters. However, the minimum depth is only three meters, which caused a huge problem for the engineers and construction workers, due to its proximity to the river passing overhead.
Guo Guangxu, a senior engineer said the construction risks were huge.
“There is a river over 30-meters-wide running all year above the tunnel, and the shortest distance between the top of the tunnel and the riverbed is only eight meters. To overcome these construction difficulties,” Guo said, “we invited academics from the China Engineering Academy and famous railway experts to visit the construction site. We also organized scientific and technical personnel to tackle these problems.”
To cope with the complex geographic conditions, the new rail line also employs a new power supply system to ensure smooth running and operation.
Gao Shigan is the deputy manager of Baolan High Speed Railway Project.
“Usually, we use the voltage grade of 220 kilovolts to provide electricity for high speed trains. The Baolan high speed railway uses the voltage grade of 330 kilovolts, improving the reliability of the power supply,” Gao said.
Apart from boosting outbound passenger flow from the northwest, the Baoji-Lanzhou high-speed rail line is expected to improve the logistics capacity covering northwest China as well as the Eurasian rail corridor.
Xu Jiangen said the freight transport capacity will be significantly raised with the rail line’s more efficient passenger transporting capability.
“More travelers will choose high speed trains once it comes into operation. If we can save ten pairs of trains a year, then we can transport another 20 million tons of freight,” Xu noted.
With its operation, Baoji-Lanzhou railway will join other existing rail lines to form a horizontal artery that stretches from Jiangsu, in the east, with Xinjiang, in the far west of China.
A 200 kilometer long rail line, scheduled to open next year in Jiangsu Province, will further push this artery to the port city of Lianyungang.
Currently, China’s high-speed rail line network measures 22 thousand kilometers, accounting for more than 60 percent of the total high-speed rail lines in the world.
By 2020, the total high-speed rail line network is planned to be extended to 30 thousand kilometers, covering 80 percent of China’s big cities.
Nov 22, 2017 0
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily