(this piece of news was riginally published on Takung Newspaper,August31st, 2012 )
Opening the railway map of China, one can see the main trend of cargos and passengers transportation between the inland and the western region of China. From the capital city of Yunnan province, Kunming, the goods and people flows take the Kunming-Dali railway to go westward and reach Dali city. If the railway could be extended to Ruili in Dehong prefecture, the freight and passengers would enjoy an easy access directly southward into Yangoon in Myanmar, Bangkok in Thailand and even Kuala Lumpur in Singapore, finally reaching the .estuary of Indian Ocean. This is the general path of the west Pan-Asia railway. For long, the issue as how to erase the barricade on the way from Dali to Ruili has been the key point of establishing this international artery railway which links China with countries of Southeast Asian together.
A few days ago the reporter had learned the information from the prefectural office of railway construction that plan of the national level-1 railroad from Baoshan to Ruili was currently under revision and a 5 billion yuan new investment was expected to propel the construction. With the completion of the rail in the near future, a dream of touring the ASEAN nations by train could soon become reality.
(Mr.Gong, the governor of Dehong prefecture, studied the construction plan)
The Final Link in Sino-Myanmar Railway
The Dali-Ruili Rail is a key project in the national “Medium and Long Term Railway Newwork Plan” and a fundamental component of the west Pan-Asian railway. The Dali- Ruili rail serves as a major channel in the eight main passenger railroads to Yunnan and four principal cross-border paths to Myanmar, India, Laos and Thailand. It is also the final link on the Sino-Myanmar International Railway.
With a total length of 330 kilometers, the Daili-Ruili rail is a joint-venture construction of the Yunnan provincial government and the National Ministry of Railways, which has become the largest railway construction since the Neijiang-Kunming Railway in terms of its14.7-billion yuan investment. In the railway plan, 7 cities in Dali autonomous prefecture, Baoshan Municipality and Dehong autonomous prefecture will be connected with a single line of national I–level standard electric railway. The designed transport capacity is 12 pairs of trains per day and 12,000,000 tons of cargos per year. According to the draft, the speed of the train will reach 140 kilometers per hour.
When the rail is finished, it will become the trunk line in Sino-Myanmar railway which offers convenient entrance to Myanmar. With this railway, the trip from Kunming to Ruili will be contracted to a evening-to-morning ride to travel over 700 kilometers within 12 hours. In the respective of economy, the railway will reinforce Yunnan’s position as a bridge for the opening-up to Southeast Asian countries and bring new impetus to cities and regions along the path. Furthermore, the Dali-Ruili railway is going to alter the status quo of Yunnan’s railway network and secure the Sino- Myanmar strategic route of energy resources, not to mention its function in deepening international communication.
The Three Challenges Posed by Gaoli Gong Mountain
In the eyes of railway expertise, the rail from Dali to Ruili has a huge investment, a long mileage and a extended construction period due to the extremely complex geographical and topographical conditions of the construction terrains. The construction section between Dali and Baoshan started in June of 2006 while the exploration and survey for Baoshan-Ruili section went on simultaneously, the construction of which began in 2010.
During the process, the construction plan was changed and amended several times because of the intricate conditions of the designed route.
The Dali-Ruili railway will run across the middle part of the Hengduan Mountain, which lies on the southeastern fringe of Qingha-Tibetan Plateau, and the West Yunnan Plateau adjacent to the southwestern point of Tibetan Plateau. The longitudinal valley in the western part of Yunnan province greatly raises the difficulty of construction with its huge mountain ranges and rivers: Daguang Mountain., Sanchong Mountain, Nushan Mountain Rnage, the southern part of Gaoligong Mountain, Yangbi River, Yinjiang River, Lancang River and Long River…The list is bewildering. Among the 330 kilometers from Baoshan to Ruili, the length of bridges and tunnels account for 75%. In the original construction design, there were totally 97 bridges along the railway with an aggregate distance of 27.65 kilometers, including 14 giant bridges, 55 large bridges, 25 medium bridges and 3 small bridges. The 34-kilometer Gaoligong Tunnel, one of all the 57 tunnels, ranks the longest in Asia.
The Gaoligong Tunnel is an essential path from Baoshan to Ruili. The Dehong basin has a altitude of 700 meters, which is far lower than the altitude of Baoshan. This special geographical feature requires an incessant traverse at the bottom of the mountain for nearly 34 kilometers, which may be even more difficult than the railway construction on the frozen ground at Tibetan Plateau
On the other hand, the complicated geographical structure of the Gaoligong Mountain alone imposes three challenges for the construction team: the geothermal in this region which might lead to leak of hot water in the tunnel, the high in-situ stress and frequent earthquakes requiring extra quake-proof measures. To tackle those problems, the National Ministry of Railways set up a special technology team to estimate and examine the construction plan repeatedly. According the latest information, the current design will add some more curves to the original plan.
Additional Budget of 5 Billion Yuan for Dali-Ruili Railway
As a notorious longitudinal rift valley, the precipitous Gaoligong Mountain boasts a perpendicular height as 4,000 meters. The vertical distance from the construction ground to the highest point of the tunnel amounts to 700 meters. After considering the length of the tunnel and extension of the construction phase, the construction team finally decided to adopt a multi-point or sloping ground method in the new construction plan. Plainly speaking, it is a method to dig a construction well at the top of the tunnel and then excavate the tunnel from the middle to its two ends. This technique can shorten the construction largely but has a high demand on equipment and technological proficiency. The drilling machine used in this construction costs about a hundred-million yuan.
The Baoshan-Ruili section of Dali-Ruili Railway has a length of 196 kilometers with 63 bridges and 15 tunnels, which altogether accounts for 46.8% of the overall length. The original investment was 13.56 billion yuan and later was raised by 5 billion yuan since the difficulty of construction and the rises in material prices.
The Dehong prefectural office of railway construction revealed that the final draft of Baoshan-Ruili railway construction is now drawing to an end. The recent revision was a perfection of the original plan. The final design will be reported to national authority by Yunnan provincial government and National Ministry of Railways. Soon after the approval of National Development and Reform Commission, the real construction work will be put into full blast.