China launches most difficult, expensive railway network

BEIJING, Dec. 22 (APP):  Railways considered to be China’s most difficult and expensive to build started operation on Wednesday.It took about 50,000 workers seven years to dig and complete 159 tunnels and build 253 bridges through a stretch of mountains on the eastern edge of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.The length of track that runs through bridges and tunnels accounts for about 74 percent of the line’s total.In the most extreme case, it took almost six years to drill a tunnel through Qiyue Mountain due to complex and dangerous construction conditions.

Workers overcame the karst terrain, molten lava, subterranean rivers, fault zones, stress areas, coal and gas layers, and many other geological challenges, said Hu Ziping, chief designer of the railway.
The line, involving 22.7 billion yuan (3.41 billion U.S. dollars) in total investment, is also China’s most expensive railway in terms of cost per kilometer.
The maiden journey began when a train carrying more than 900 passengers left Enshi Station, Hubei Province, for a two-hour journey to Yichang City.
“We used to pay 100 yuan (15 U.S. dollars) for a one-day bus trip to Yichang before. Now, 30 yuan can get us there in two hours,” said Zeng Mingquan, 58, who took his grandson to the launch ceremony.
Wednesday’s maiden trip covered more than half the 377-km route linking Yichang to Wanzhou District, in neighboring Chongqing Municipality.