World’s highest bridge opens in southwest China

A towering bridge hanging 565 meters above a gorge in southwest China opened to traffic yesterday, making it the world’s highest bridge. The Beipanjiang Bridge spans 1.34 kilometers between the city of Xuanwei in Yunnan Province and Shuicheng County in Guizhou Province. It cost more than 1 billion yuan (US$140 million) to build, according to China Central Television. The four-lane bridge, which took three years to build, will cut the journey time between Xuanwei and Shuicheng from more than four hours to about an hour. Photo: Xinhua

China is aiming to build a faster, greener and safer public transport system throughout the country by 2020, it said yesterday.

The government plans to build more high-speed railways, with the aim of having some 30,000 kilometers of high-speed track linking more than 80 percent of major cities by then.

Vice Minister of Transport Yang Yudong said China plans to invest 3.5 trillion yuan (US$503.3 billion) in railway construction during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).

High-speed rail has become a symbol of Made-in-China and going-global products, and “China’s technologies for high-speed, alpine, plateau and heavy-haul railways have reached the world’s advanced level,” according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office yesterday.

Such expertise has enabled major geological challenges to be overcome, it adds, citing the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

“High-performance railway equipment technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights, represented by high-speed railways and high-power locomotives, have reached the advanced world level, with some of them leading the world,” it says.

Besides high-speed rail, China’s key construction technologies for offshore deep-water ports, improved technologies for large estuary waterways and long waterways, and construction technologies for large-scale airports are leading the world, the white paper says.

It also details plans to renovate some 30,000 kilometers of expressways and the provision of tarmac and cement roads and shuttle bus services for villages, all of which will have access to a mail service.

Commuting circles of one to two hours between central cities and peripheral cities will be created, along with one-hour commuting circles between central cities and key peripheral towns.

The development of urban rail and bus rapid transit systems will be speeded up, along with other means of high-capacity public transport, it says.

By 2020, intercity railway networks will be completed in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta areas.

More efforts will be made in cities with a population of 3 million or more to create urban rail transport networks, and about 3,000 kilometers of new tracks will be added to the current urban rail transit system.

Building integrated transport hubs, promoting the green and intelligent development of transport services and improving safety in the industry is also a priority, the paper says.

The eventual aim is a comprehensive transport network that spreads from east to west and south to north with passageways that extend beyond China’s borders and the development of sea routes for the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

Over past decades, China’s transport network has undergone drastic changes, the railway sector in particular.

When the People’s Republic was founded in 1949, railways totaled just 21,800 kilometers, half of which were dormant.

By the end of last year, some 121,000 kilometers of track was in use, including 19,000 kilometers of high-speed railways, the most of any country.

But while connectivity has been enhanced in large swathes of the country, construction lagged in less developed regions in the southwest.

Yesterday, construction began on the Guiyang-Nanning high-speed railway in the southwest.

The 482-kilometer line will cut the time between Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, from over 10 hours to two and half hours, said Ding Rongfu, chairman of China Railway Airport Construction Group Co.

With a maximum speed of 350kph, the line is expected to go into service in 2022.

On Wednesday, China put into operation one of the world’s longest high-speed railways. The 2,252-kilometer Shanghai-Kunming line crosses five provinces and cuts the travel time between the two cities from 35 to 11 hours.

Also launched was a high-speed line linking Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and Nanning.


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