China's Yichang-Wanzhou Railway: 253 Bridges and 159 Tunnels
And 60 Million RMB per Kilometer
The railway line was China's most difficult and expensive to build. It took a staggering figure of approximately 50,000 workers across the whole project, and seven years to dig and complete 159 tunnels and build 253 bridges through a stretch of mountains on the edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.|
In one extreme case, it took nearly six years to drill a tunnel through Qiyue Mountain along the route.
Of the railway's total length of 380 Kms., 75% percent or 280 Kms., consists of bridges and tunnels. The local population refer to the railway as the "tunnel and bridge museum."
The railway goes through some of the most difficult terrain in the country, with many sections running through karst topography, or landscape formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks. Hu Ziping, the railway's chief designer, said "It was the hardest project I have ever worked on." "Karst collapse was something we worried about the most," Hu said.
Hu said the railway's designed speed in 2003 was 160 km per hour - the fastest for its time. "It seems much slower now in this high-speed age," he said.
The line involved 22.7 billion yuan in total investment, and is China's most expensive railway in terms of the cost per kilometer. It cost about 60 million yuan for each kilometer, compared with 29 million yuan per kilometer for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, said Zhu Pengfei, a senior project official, who also worked on the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
Travel time from other central or east China cities to southwest part of the country will also be significantly shorter, bringing new opportunities for residents who live in the steep and remote mountains. Officials hope the trains will open up new opportunities for residents who live in the steep and remote Wuling Mountains.
China has invested heavily in railways connecting length and breadth of the country, including remote areas like Tibet with railway lines. The railway in the country is also undergoing transformation to shift to high speed railway networks with the trains logging speed upto 486 km, setting new records.
The maiden journey was in November, when a train carrying more than 900 passengers left Enshi City of Hubei Province for a two-hour journey to Yichang City. "We used to pay 100 yuan (US$15) for a one-day bus trip to Yichang before. Now, 30 yuan can get us there in two hours," said Zeng Mingquan, 58, who took his grandson to the launch ceremony.