TunnelTalk China Correspondent
Following inauguration last week of China's Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, an official overview of the country's plans for an extensive network of high-speed links across the nation is compiled by a TunnelTalk correspondent in China.
- On July 1, 2011, the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway in China was formally opened for service. This one-off high-speed railway construction project accounts as the longest railway with the highest technological standards in the world. The total investment of about 220 billion RMB (about US$35 billion) in this milestone project is also unprecedentedly large for the People's Republic of China.
- The overall length of Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line is about 1,318km. Of this about 1,140km or 86.5% of the main line runs on bridges with another 16km, or about 1.2% passes through tunnels. The length of at grade roadbed accounts for 12.3% or 162km, with some 96.2% 1,268km running on ballastless tracks.
Beijing South Station terminus on the high-speed line to Shanghai
- Since the beginning of 1990s, China has paid attention to the research on high-speed railways. In 1990, a report on the Beijing-Shanghai Railway Line Program was prepared by the Ministry of Railways and submitted to National People's Congress for discussion. This represented the initial proposal for constructing a high-speed railway in China.
- Ahead of its construction, construction of the first high-speed railway built in China, the 120km long Beijing-Tianjin Inter-City Railway, started in July 2005 and was opened for service in August 2008. Its maximum operational speed is 350km/h and with minimum headway intervals of 3 minutes, it shortens the previous journey time on the line to about 30 minutes. With proprietary intellectual property rights, the Beijing-Tianjin Inter-City Railway has the highest operational speed in the world. It not only provides a convenient and time saving journey between two populous cities but also ushered in a new epoch of high-speed railways in China.
- By the end of June 2011, 17 high-speed railways with a total network of 6,086km were operating in China (Table 1).
- Table 1. Operating conditions of high-speed railways in China to end June 2011
|No.||Line||Length（km）||Design speed（km/h）||Length of bridges（km）||Length of tunnels（km）||Commencement date/completion date (year.month)|
|1||Beijing-Tianjin Inter-City Railway||120||350||104||-||2005.7/2008.8|
|2||Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan Passenger-Dedicated Railway||190||200（250）||39||76||2005.6/2009.4|
|4||Hefei-Nanjing Railway||166||200 (250)||2||2005.7/2008.4|
|5||Jiaoji Passenger-Dedicated Railway||363||200||-||2007/2009|
|6||Wuhan-Guangzhou Passenger-Dedicated Railway||1069||350||401||179||2005.6/2009.12|
|7||Zhengzhou-Xi'an Passenger-Dedicated Railway||484||350||77||2005.9/2009.12|
|8||Ningbo-Taizhou-Wenzhou Railway||282||200 (250)||90||89||2005.10/2009.9|
|9||Wenzhou-Fuzhou Railway||298||200 (250)||158||2005.8/2009.7|
|10||Fuzhou-Xiamen Railway||273||250 (300)||72||28||2005.10/2010.4|
|11||Shanghai-Nanjing Inter-City Railway||301||250||150||3||2008.4/2010.7|
|12||Shanghai-Hangzhou Inter-City Railway||160||350||139||-||2009.2/2010.10|
|13||Nanchang-Jiujiang Inter-City Railway||92||200||1||2007.6/2010.9|
|14||Changchun-JIlin Inter-City Railway||96||250||6||2007/2011.1|
|15||Hainan Eastern Ring Railway||308||200 (250)||103||25||2007.9/2010.12|
|16||Guangzhou-Zhuhai Inter-City Railway||144||200||10||2005.12/2011.1|
|17||Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway||1318||350||1140||16||2008.4/2011.6|
2008 network of medium-term and long-term rail network plans
Projects for the future
According to the goal set in the Medium-Term and Long-Term Plans for the Railway Network (as modified in 2008), a 'four vertical and four horizontal' high-speed rail network to connect major populous and industry-intensive zones in China will be constructed. Given the current progress of the program, it is expected that the total length of the high-speed railways operating in China by 2012 will total 13,000km and a 'four vertical and four horizontal' network of more than 16,000km will be accomplished by the year of 2020. When that time comes, an extensive Beijing-centered high-speed rail system will be formed in Chinato connect most provincial capitals and regional central cities except Urumchi, Lhasa and Haikou.
- Doubtless, this network will shorten the journey time between cities, improve the status quo of economy and society, and increase the number of cities and regions which can enjoy the comfort, convenience and benefits of high-speed railways.
The condition of high-speed railways under construction:
By June, 2011, the overall length of tunnels operating in China is 7,000km, of which 734km are on high-speed railway lines. Tunnels currently under construction total about 7,500kmwith some 2,750km needed for high-speed railway projects. Plans for new tunnels total some 10,000km.
- In China, the main tunnel excavation method is drill+blast with TBMs used only when geological conditions are considered suitable.
- High-speed rail tunnels of up to 15km in China are designed generally as single-tube double track headings. For those in excess of 15km long, the is altered to the twin-tube, single-track design.
- In order to counter aerodynamic effects, an effective clearance of 100m2 is adopted for design speeds of between 300km/h and 350km/h and of 92m2 on lines with a design speed of 250km/h. Ballastless tracks are installed in all tunnels with a design speed of more than 200km/h and more than 6km long. Ballast tracks and used normally in tunnels of less than 6km long.
- China has made a huge commitment to high-speed railway and has become skilled in the design and construction of the tunnels needed for the networks. An immense programme of tunnel construction lies ahead for high-speed rail designers and construction firms.
China's leading mega project status - TunnelTalk, July 2011
Drill+blast popularity for China's high-speed railway excavation - TunnelTalk, April 2011
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