YANTAI: The construction of China's second train-ferry route, from Yantai in Shandong Province to Dalian in Liaoning Province, is proceeding full steam ahead.
Dong Qingguo, a senior official with Sinorail Bohai Train Ferry Co Ltd, which is in charge of construction and operation of the route, told China Daily yesterday that the first roll-on roll-off ferry would make its maiden voyage at the end of the month.
The vessel, Zhongtie Bohai No 1, is the first electrically propelled train ferry in China and features advanced safety and control systems, said an official surnamed Liu with the company's engineering department, who declined to give his full name.
The ferry is 182.6 metres long, 24.8 metres wide and has a capacity of 22,700 tons. In the future there will be a total of nine ferries travelling along the line, Liu said.
Meanwhile, the trial operation of the whole project will begin in September, and the service will be launched officially in January next year.
On the first day of the trial operation, Dong said, a hundred couples will hold their wedding ceremonies on the ferry, including China's Olympics table tennis champion Wang Nan.
Crossing the Bohai Sea, the Yantai-Dalian railway ferry project connects the southern tip of the Liaoning Peninsula and the northern end of the Shandong Peninsula.
With an investment of 2.4 billion yuan (US$300 million), the train-ferry line covers 34.35 kilometres of railway lines, and spans another 86.28 nautical miles (159.8 kilometres) across the Bohai Sea.
The line will have a capacity of 6.5 million tons a year upon launch and 12.4 million tons once all nine ferries are in operation, officials said.
Experts said that the line would contribute enormously to the economic development in the Bohai region.
China's first train-ferry line, the Yuehai Train Ferry from Guangdong to Hainan, started operations in January, 2003.
(China Daily 06/06/2006 page3)