A 65-kilometer high-speed railway linking Chengdu and Dujiangyan in Sichuan province went into operation Wednesday on the second anniversary of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake which left some 70,000 people dead.
The 13-billion-yuan project, the largest investment for Sichuan in post-quake reconstruction, started construction on November 4, 2008 and went into trial operation on April 1, 2010.
Going through one of Sichuan's most populated areas, the trains on this line run at a speed of up to 220 kilometers an hour at an interval of three to five minutes between 15 stations. One trip between the Chengdu and Dujiangyan takes 30 minutes.
Most of the high-speed railway was built over a bridge, with 37 viaducts totaling 44 kilometers, accounting for 67.8 percent of the railway's length.
Each of the viaduct's pier columns generally uses five tons of steel bars, while the line in Pixian county, which has the single longest viaduct of 21 kilometers, uses 50 tons of steel bars for each pier column. Each pier column also has 24 huge screws connecting it with the body of the viaduct to ensure the viaduct will stay intact through major earthquakes.
Trains running on the high-speed railway, which is made of seamless tracks, won't make as much noise as common railways. Acoustic panels along the railway are also expected to limit the noise to the lowest level, with the line in rural areas having transparent panels to let passengers view the rural scenery outside.
Chengdu a major beneficiary
"The operation of the Chengdu-Dujiangyan high-speed railway is a milestone for Chengdu, the gateway to China's western regions and an important city covered by the country's 'Go West' strategy, to enter the high-speed railway era," said Tu Zhi, deputy director of Chengdu's transportation committee.
Tu said the high-speed railway will bring in new opportunities for Chengdu's development, especially for post-earthquake reconstruction and development of the tourism industry of earthquake-ravaged and Chengdu-administered Dujiangyan city.
Housing reconstruction in Dujiangyan's rural areas is almost finished, while 300,000 square meters of the government-led 2.6 million square meters of urban housing reconstruction have yet to be completed.
A total of 83.35 percent of the investment of Dujiangyan's reconstruction has been finished, and the city's tourism industry is also picking up strength after the earthquake.
The Chengdu-Chongqing high-speed railway, opened earlier, has shortened the trip between the two cities to less than 2 hours, and with the operation of the new high-speed railway, which enables travelers to go to Dujiangyan from Chengdu in half an hour, more visitors from Chongqing are expected to be attracted to Dujiangyan.
Local government has added more workers in Dujiangyan's scenic spots to maintain order in the places as well as to provide visitors with better services, according to Tu.
Asia's largest railway container transport hub starts operation
Along with the start of the Chengdu-Dujiangyan high-speed railway's operation, the Chengdu railway container transport hub, Asia's largest of its kind in terms of annual capability, was also put into operation on Wednesday.
Construction work on the hub started in July 2008, and in March this year it was put into a trial run. The hub's current annual capability is 11.91 million tons, and the figure is expected to reach 26.26 million tons.
Located in Chengdu's Qingbaijiang district, where the Baoji-Chengdu, Chengdu-Chongqing, Chengdu-Kunming and Dazhou-Chengdu railways meet, the container transport hub has an area of 2,140 mu (143 hectares), with an investment of 759 million yuan.
"The operation of the Chengdu-Dujiangyan high-speed railway and the Chengdu railway container transport hub is a sign that Chengdu is speeding up the construction of a comprehensive transport hub in the country's western regions," said Tu Zhi, adding that the city aims to be the largest national-level comprehensive transport hub in the western regions.
The Chengdu railway container transport hub is only one part of the project of constructing the western railway logistics center, which contains the Chengdu railway container transport hub, Dawan cargo station, Chengdu international container logistics park and Qingbaijiang logistics park, with a planned total investment of about 8.16 billion yuan.
Tu said Chengdu's railway construction is in a fast development period, and within three to five years it will take less than four hours to travel from Chengdu to its neighboring cities, including Guiyang, Lanzhou, Kunming, Xi'an and Wuhan, and less than eight hours to Beijing, Tianjin, the Pearl River Delta area and the Yangtze River Delta area.