1st LD-Writethru-China Focus: New track laid to upgrade China's 100-year-old railway

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BEIJING, June 12 (Xinhua) -- With the last steel rail piece laid Wednesday in a tunnel underground Tsinghua University in Beijing, the track of the whole length of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-Speed Railway has been built.

The original railway linking the two cities was put into operation in 1909. It was known as China's first independently designed and built railway.

With a designed speed of 350 km per hour, the 174-kilometer-long new track will shorten the travel time between the national capital and the city in neighboring Hebei Province to one hour, facilitating inter-city traffic and crucial for the co-host of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Based on the BeiDou satellite and GIS technology, 10 tunnels were built on the railway.

The first underground passage is located 270 meters away from the railway's terminal of the Beijing North Railway Station in Haidian District. Named "Tsinghua Campus Tunnel," the 6,020-meter-long underground design aims to avoid ground traffic pressure over the capital city's Third Ring Road.

The underground pass intersects with Beijing Metro Line 10, Line 15 and Line 12 and runs parallel to Line 13. It also passes through seven major urban roads and nearly 90 major municipal pipelines.

"In such a complex environment, shield construction of such a large scale requires an error rate within '1 millimeter,' as a delicate surgery operated between numerous arteries of the human body," said Zhao Bin, shield manager for the tunnel project.

The longest underground tunnel with a total length of 12,000 meters on the railway is the "Badaling Tunnel," which was dug to avoid traversing through the scenic spots of several Great Wall sections and the Ming Tombs.

The Badaling Great Wall Station on the railway covers an area of 39,800 square meters at the depth of 102 meters underground, equivalent to 30 stories. The floor space is equivalent to six football fields. Both the depth and underground space set world records.

Li Hongxia, general director of intelligent engineering design of the high-speed railway, said intelligent technology for high-precision services needs to be used in the whole process of construction, operation, train dispatching, maintenance and emergency response on the line.

"The railway with 10 stations will share 'one brain' for comprehensive command of the railway operation, station lighting, temperature and humidity in a control room," he said.

Trains can basically run on the line in the same autopiloting mode as metro trains. "This will be the first time in the world that the driverless system can enable railway trains to run at the speed of 350 km per hour on the line," said Wang Dongfang, China Railway Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-Speed Railway Signal Design Director.

"Before the 1980s, it took me six or seven hours from my hometown in Zhangjiakou to Beijing. Now it takes me three hours. When the high-speed railway starts service, it would just take an hour," said Zhang Shijie, director of the roadbed project of the railway.

He recalled that the original railway was designed by Zhan Tianyou, known as the "father of China's railroad." The construction was considered impossible at the time without foreign assistance. Zhan, together with his colleagues, however, strived to complete its construction two years ahead of schedule, inventing a zigzag railway design using two locomotives instead of one to power trains on a steep mountain slope.

The upgrading of the railway is evidence of China's progress in modern science and technology and demonstrates the unyielding spirit of the Chinese people. Based on the construction of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed line, China would establish a standard system of the new-generation high-speed railways with intelligent services, said Wang.

By the end of 2018, China's high-speed rail mileage exceeded 29,000 km, ranking the first in the world. Enditem

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