Construction on Asia's largest mountain tunnel to begin in June

By Rebecca Unsworth, May 9, 2014

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A 30km tunnel which cuts through a mountain will get underway in June, as part of the ambitious Trans-Asian Railway Network. The tunnel will be the largest of its kind in Asia.

Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said "the Gaoligong Mountain Rail Tunnel will be more than 30 kilometers long and will help link Yunnan province to [Burma]".

Experts at the National Development and Reform Commission approved the project after engineers came up with solutions to tackle any geological complexities that construction workers may face.

"Another important project, the Nujiang River Rail Bridge, will also be launched soon," Wang added, noting that both bridge and tunnel will be part of the Dali-Ruili Railway. The track will extend for 330km, linking China with Burma.

Three rail lines that link China to Southeast Asian nations are included in the central government's medium- and long-term railway network plan, and some preliminary work has begun, according to sources close to China Railway Corp (formerly the Ministry of Railways). Under the plan, the lines will start in Kunming, Yunnan province, and connect Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, [Burma], Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. They constitute the southern part of the Trans-Asian Railway, which was initiated in the 1960s and began to take shape after 18 countries endorsed an agreement in November 2006.

Meanwhile, in a move designed to improve the integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province transportation systems, passengers at Beijing Railway Station are able to buy tickets and check in for flights from Tianjin Binhai International Airport. Travellers can then enjoy a free, 33-minute ride on a bullet train to Tianjin Railway Station, and then a free 30-minute bus ride to the airport.

The general manager of the Tianjin airport, Yan Xin, said, "It is the first ticketing facility we have set up at a railway station. It is a new model to link the railway and the airline, building a faster and more convenient travel route for travelers".

By 2016, passengers will be able to use a high speed bullet train from the station to the airport, with a journey time of 45 minutes

[Image via Flickr]

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