The first test train runs on the second Shanghai-Nanjing intercity high-speed railway spanning the Yangtze River on Thursday. The railway is being partly built by China Railway 24th Bureau Group Corp Ltd. (Photo/China Daily)
China's high-speed railway expansion charged ahead on Thursday with a new line that is expected to slash travel times in eastern China, which is entering the final preparation stage before going into official operation in September.
According to a construction progress report by the Shanghai branch of the national rail operator China State Railway Group Co Ltd, the second Shanghai-Nanjing intercity high-speed railway spanning the Yangtze River entered joint testing, bringing some of the country's most economically vital cities within an hour's reach of each other.
The first test train departed from Nanjing South Railway Station on Thursday and headed east to Taicang Railway Station, both located in Jiangsu province, for comprehensive testing, the China Railway's report said.
Joint testing, done after static acceptance, uses test trains, high-speed trains and related test equipment for comprehensive testing to evaluate and verify the performance and functions of systems such as power supply, contact network, communications, signaling and customer service.
"Construction of the high-speed rail began in October 2018. Power supply started in December 2021 and track laying began in September 2022. And now, it's entered joint testing. We have indeed come across many challenges, especially the COVID-19 pandemic," said a project manager with China Railway 24th Bureau Group Corp Ltd (CR24) who declined to be named.
Overcoming difficulties such as tight schedules and complex construction environments, construction teams on each bid of the high-speed railway projects have performed a high amount of work on adjusting construction plans, with on-site control and coordination with various relevant government units to ensure key objectives were achieved on schedule, the manager said.
So far, the project's roadbed, rail bridges, tunnels, tracks and powers systems, as well as station buildings, have been completed and are ready for joint tests, he added.
A builder of the high-speed rail and a unit of State-owned China Railway Construction Corp, CR24 said that once operational, the new line will afford trains to run between Shanghai and Nanjing, Jiangsu province, journeying 279 kilometers at up to 350 kilometers per hour and stopping in eight cities along the way.
For Jiangsu cities like Jintan and Jiangyin, access to the new rail will eliminate them from the list of cities isolated from the national high-speed rail network, fueling ambitions to become integral cities of the Yangtze River delta's booming economy, CR24 said.
The railway begins in Nanjing and passes through Jiangsu cities of Zhenjiang, Changzhou, Wuxi and Suzhou before arriving at Taicang. It then connects to the Shanghai railway hub via the Shanghai-Suzhou high-speed rail route.
With relatively weak domestic demand weighing on the nation's economic recovery, maintaining strength in infrastructure investment is even more significant at the current stage, as it will play a key role in boosting domestic demand and, more importantly, shoring up market confidence, experts said.
According to China Railway, fixed-asset investment in national railway projects in the first five months reached 206.1 billion yuan ($28.8 billion), up 7 percent year-on-year.