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Route through scenic areas puts nation on travel fast track

China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-25 07:12
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A Fuxing bullet train departed from Chongqing on June 20, and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing in six hours and 46 minutes, marking the official opening of the Zhengzhou-Chongqing high-speed railway. [Photo by Deng Rui /]

CHONGQING-With a new section launched on Monday, a high-speed railway line that passes through the area best known for the Three Gorges Reservoir has become fully operational in China.

With a total length of 1,068 kilometers, the high-speed railway links Southwest China's Chongqing municipality and Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province in the north of the country, as well as passing through Central China's Hubei province.

The new 434-km section that opened on Monday links Hubei's Xiangyang and Chongqing's Wanzhou. Two other sections of the railway were opened in 2016 and 2019.

The line allows the travel time from Chongqing to Zhengzhou to be shortened from around eight hours to more than four hours at top speed. Meanwhile, the shortest travel time from Chongqing to Beijing will be cut from more than 20 hours to less than seven hours.

Traversing various mountains, rivers and forests, it is believed to be one of the most challenging routes in China's high-speed rail network.

With a top speed of 350 km per hour, the new section features 91 bridges, 57 tunnels and 10 stations. Among them, two single-hole double-track tunnels are among the longest in Asia-one with a total length of 18.95 km and the other extending 18.79 km.

As the Xiangyang-Wanzhou section goes through the Three Gorges Reservoir area, which boasts rich natural resources like rivers, wetlands and grasslands, the conservation of the ecological environment was prioritized in the construction process.

"We initiated the reconnaissance and design work in 2008 and always made protection of the environment a priority. For example, during the route selection, the tunnel projects had to be as far as possible from the Yangtze River," said Xiao Qiang, deputy chief engineer of the Chongqing branch of the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group.

In addition, a variety of measures were taken during the construction process to promote water and soil conservation. Xiao added that sites where construction residue was disposed of must be cultivated into orchards or arable land, which not only reduces the effect on the environment, but can create new agricultural businesses for local farmers.

The route takes in six cities each with a population of more than 5 million people. Three of them have more than 10 million residents.

The Zhengzhou-Chongqing high-speed railway is expected to boost the flow of people and goods among the regions, especially in the Three Gorges Reservoir area.

In 2019, when high-speed trains were not available to people in the area, which covers the Yangtze River in Hubei and Chongqing, it received more than 300 million tourists and garnered a tourism income of 271 billion yuan ($40.5 billion).

Experts believe that the Three Gorges area will see a boost in tourism due to the improved rail services.


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