December 11, 2019
from GlobalResearch Website
China's Yichang-Wanzhou Railway:
253 Bridges and
The route was originally proposed by Sun Yat-Sen in 1903 to shorten the rail journey between the mountainous regions in the southwest and eastern parts of China.
The project initially
began in 1909, but was repeatedly abandoned from insurmountable
technological problems due to the difficult natural environment,
until the central government decided to relaunch it in 2003.
The project achieved its main objectives of increasing corridor capacity, removing transport barriers, and reducing transport costs, and has already contributed significantly to economic growth and poverty reduction in the project area, and potentially benefitting the entire Western area.
It took a staggering seven years and 50,000 workers to dig and drill 159 tunnels and build 253 bridges. In one extreme case, it took nearly six years to drill a tunnel through Qiyue Mountain along the route.
Of the railway's total length of 380 Km, 75% percent or 280 Km, consists of bridges and tunnels.
Each and every kilometer of the railway contains at least one bridge or one tunnel, most often one of each, leading the locals to refer to the railway as the,
The line involved more
than 20 billion RMB (2.85 billion US$ - Dec. 2019) in total
investment, about 60 million for each kilometer, and is China's most
expensive railway, costing double the 30 million RMB per kilometer
for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway which was the second most
It is a bit of anticlimactic irony that this railway required so much time to build that railway technology surpassed it during its own construction.
The Yichang-Wanzhou railway was designed for trains traveling at about 200 kph, which were the fastest at the time construction began, but was two generations behind by the time construction was completed.
Given the construction
difficulties, there is probably no one in China interested in
upgrading this railway in the immediate future.
One local resident said,
recognized from the beginning that economic development follows
transportation, and thus maintaining control of the transportation
infrastructure derives from a determination to distribute the
benefits of development to the entire nation.
A privately-developed railway system would be built only on the most profitable routes, those likely to amass billions for their owners but that would leave perhaps half the nation destitute for transportation and sentenced to perpetual poverty.
Thus, railway privatization would saddle China's central government with the costs of building all the unprofitable routes without benefitting from the profitable segments.
This is one of Western capitalism's main mantras:
It was the same with mobile communications.
And with this new railway
through some of nature's most formidable barriers, local farmers and
business people (who would have been ignored by private enterprise)
can not only easily arrange delivery of their produce but quickly
travel between regional population centers, stimulating enormous
increases in tourism and all manner of commerce, thus benefiting the