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China cuts through mountains to expand high speed train network to more than 22,000 km

Trains on the new route will run at 250 km an hour, not the fastest in China, but the travelling time between Xian and Chengdu will be cut from 11 hours to less than four hours.

world Updated: Dec 06, 2017 23:56 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China high speed railways,train line across Qinling mountains,bullet trains
File photo of a man looking at China’s bullet trains operating on the high-speed railway linking Shanghai and Hangzhou in Shanghai on October 26, 2010.(Reuters)

China on Wednesday inaugurated a 658-km high speed railway line cutting through a mountain range and connecting the terracotta warriors’ city of Xian in the northwest to Chengdu city in the southwest, taking the total high-speed network to more than 22,000 km.

Though trains on the route will run at 250 km an hour, which is not the fastest in China, the travelling time between Xian and Chengdu will be cut from 11 hours to less than four hours, the state media reported.

This is also the first rail line to cut across the Qinling mountains, which for centuries served as a natural barrier between the north and south of the country.

Engineers working on the project – which took almost five years to complete – had to build 127 bridges and 34 tunnels because of the mountainous terrain and river valleys in the region. The tunnels include a 16-km one with double tracks, which experts have said is among the longest in Asia.

By 2016, China had built 22,000 km of high speed railway lines in about a decade, said to be the longest network in the world. India began work on its first high speed line, the 500-km link between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, this year.

“The first high-speed train (on the new route) left Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi province, at 8.22 am. It will make 14 stops before reaching Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province,” official Xinhua news agency reported.

China has plans to build 38,000 km of high speed railway lines by 2025 and 45,000 km by 2030. More than 80% of the country’s major cities are expected to linked by such lines in the next couple of years.

The 22,000-km network includes nearly 10,000 km of high-speed railway bridges, state transport authorities said earlier this year.

China has also increased the maximum speed of bullet trains on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line to 350 km an hour, “making it once again the world's fastest train service some six years after it was reduced to 300 km per hour”, the state media reported.

Following a train collision in the southeastern city of Wenzhou in 2011, speeds were capped at 300 km an hour for six years. The speed increase has cut the journey between Beijing and Shanghai to four hours and 28 minutes.

The faster Fuxing (which means rejuvenation) trains are a “substantial upgrade on the previous bullet trains, known as Hexie, or Harmony”, state media reported. “Entirely designed and manufactured in China, the Fuxing is more spacious and energy efficient, with a longer service life and better reliability,” a report said.

First Published: Dec 06, 2017 17:13 IST