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Inland Hunan province to see big boost, with all cities linked by high-speed railway

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With more bullet trains coming in and out of stations in the cities of Yiyang and Ningxiang recently, the Central China province of Hunan has become the eighth provincial-level region boasting all cities being connected by high-speed rail service, thanks to the nation's intensified efforts in the infrastructure sector.

On Sept 6, the rail section that is part of the Chongqing-Xiamen High-speed Railway between Hunan's Yiyang and its provincial capital Changsha, a key line of the rail network in China, began operating.

Currently, all of the 14 prefecture-level regions in the province are supported by high-speed rail service, with a total rail length of more than 2,300 kilometers, said China Railway 24th Bureau Group Corp Ltd (CR24), a subsidiary of State-owned enterprise China Railway Construction Corp.

At 63 km in length, the Yiyang-Changsha section has three stations along the route and a designated speed of 310 kilometers per hour, shortening the previous 70-minute inter-city rail trip to 31 minutes, the builder said.

"There are challenges for projects, and for the project we face here, the rail bridge construction is the most difficult part, as many bridges to be built are located above operating rails or highways. And among such construction works, the Ningxiang high-speed rail bridge is the toughest one," said Luo Yuelin, leader of the construction team with CR24.

The bridge, Lin said, has a length of 4.76 km and will stand above five major avenues in Ningxiang. The overpasses of the bridge, including the beams and pillars supporting them, were built prior to the twist work that then formed the completed bridge.

"We were determined to go the whole hog to eliminate disruptions on other transport operations and we did it. The twist work started by dawn on a morning in April and was finished within 50 minutes," Lin said.

The construction team had run times from simulative tests before the official operation, and safety guarantees were also well arranged during the twisting process, he added.

According to CR24, the Chongqing-Xiamen High-speed Railway is a major rail line in the nation as it connects the inland regions of Chongqing municipality and Hunan and Jiangxi provinces with coastal Fujian province, facilitating travel and trade activity for those living in inland cities, and ultimately boosting the overall development of the region along the Yangtze River.

Apart from Hunan, more and more major provincial-level regions, faced with various headwinds, especially COVID-19 resurgences, are enhancing their efforts to improve livelihoods and shore up economic momentum, with a strong focus on expanding effective investment, as the central government has called on them to take the lead in supporting the country's economy.

Central China's Henan province, for example, recently released a plan to step up infrastructure construction. The province has set a goal of implementing 84 major infrastructure projects with a total investment of 137.3 billion yuan ($19.6 billion) by the end of September.

Referring to such a trend nationwide, Feng Lin, an analyst with Northeast Securities, said: "Effective infrastructure investment has indeed become one of the most critical growth drivers that the nation has to hold tight to amid woes such as the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather. Looking ahead, we expect more supportive moves to be rolled out to further shore up investment in the sector, as the current pulling-up force by the sector is still below expectations."

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