China's "most difficult to build" railway to open

18:51, December 21, 2010      

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A railway touted as the most difficult to build in the country that cuts through southwestern China's rugged mountains with hundreds of bridges and tunnels, will open this week.

The maiden train journey will leave Yichang City, central Hubei Province, Wednesday morning and arrive in Wanzhou District, Chongqing, two hours later. The Yichang-Wanzhou Railway will become fully operational on Jan. 11, 2011, said Guo Bing, an official with the Yichang section of the Wuhan Railway Bureau.

It used to take 22 hours to travel by train from Chongqing to Wuhan, but when the new line opens it will only take five hours. Travel time from other central or eastern Chinese cities to southwest China will also be greatly reduced, railway officials said.

Engineers and work crews took seven years to complete the 377-kilometer railway on a stretch of mountains on the eastern edge of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. In the most extreme case, it took nearly six years to drill a tunnel through Qiyue Mountain along the route.

The railway includes 159 tunnels and 253 bridges.

The Yichang-Wanzhou Railway is also China's most expensive railway in terms of cost per kilometer. It cost about 60 million yuan to build each kilometer of the railway, compared to 29 million yuan (4.37 million U.S. dollars) for each kilometer of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Source: Xinhua
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