High speed rail may need to be rebuilt

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-4 1:20:03

Part of the newly built Harbin-Dalian high speed railroad connecting Northeast China's Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces is now facing reconstruction due to roadbed deformation, an expert said on Tuesday.

Wang Mengshu, chief engineer of the China Railway Tunnel Group and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Global Times that certain parts of the railroad were not initially designed properly.

"In regions where the temperature varies greatly around the year, frost heaving becomes a major problem in construction," said Wang. "Designers need to pay extra attention to the amount of water in the roadbed. Too little water reduces roadbed strength, while too much water could cause deformation."

Wang said a certain part of the Harbin-Dalian line, the first of its kind in Northeast China, was designed to avoid building tunnels for the purpose of reducing cost, causing the railroad to travel through ravines where rain water can easily accumulate and damage the roadbed.

An anonymous expert from the Ministry of Railways made similar comments and added that 70 percent of the ballastless track, a type of track specially required by high speed lines, was built on a viaduct to help drain water. Some 20 percent of the track built directly on the ground roadbed has seen different levels of deformation, reported Economy & Nation Weekly on Sunday.

The Harbin-Dalian high speed railroad is currently the northernmost high speed line in China with temperatures dropping to as low as -40 C in the area.

The railroad line is 904 kilometers long and cost 92.3 billion yuan ($14.51 billion). Construction started in August 2007 and was completed on December 28, 2010, according to Xinhua.

A previous report from the Heilongjiang-based news portal nbw.cn said the railroad was expected to open for operation by the end of this year. However, an employee from the Harbin-Dalian High Speed Railroad Company told the Global Times that the date is not yet known.

"The railroad company and the construction teams are still trying to work out a plan," said Wang, "I don't know how much money it is going to cost, but I know it won't be cheap."

According to Wang, the average cost for building one kilometer of high speed rail is between 120 million ($18.93 million) and 150 million yuan.

The Economy & Nation Weekly reported that further investigations are required to determine if the train is able to travel at 350 kilometers per hour, as it was designed to do, after the reconstruction.

The problem on the Harbin-Dalian line may also serve as a warning to the Harbin-Qiqihar high speed rail, which is currently under construction.

"I always tell people that railroads should be built to last," said Wang, "To achieve that goal, the government needs to ensure proper investment and careful design."


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