China’s fastest cross-sea high-speed rail commenced operations on Thursday, ushering in a new era of connectivity and efficiency. Trains on this groundbreaking rail line are now traversing the west coast of the Taiwan Strait at a maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour, effectively reducing travel times and bolstering regional integration. This marvel of engineering, known as the Fuzhou-Xiamen-Zhangzhou high-speed railway, marks China’s first cross-sea high-speed rail with a designed speed of 350 km/h, according to the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd., the nation’s railway operator.
Faster commute times and enhanced connectivity
The inaugural journey of the Fuxing bullet train G9801, departing from Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province, at 9:15 a.m., symbolized the commencement of this 277-kilometer-long rail corridor. The railway route includes stops in several key cities, namely Fuzhou, Putian, Quanzhou, Xiamen, and Zhangzhou. It is essential to note that Fujian, with its challenging mountainous terrain, has long grappled with transport limitations and efficiency concerns.
The introduction of this high-speed railway has transformed the travel experience for residents and visitors alike. The journey between Fuzhou and Xiamen, a vibrant economic hub and popular tourist destination in the province, has been significantly reduced to just under an hour. Previously, the fastest train trip between these two cities took approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
An engineering feat over the sea
One of the most remarkable features of this railway is the breathtaking sea view it offers, as 19.9 kilometers of tracks have been constructed over the sea. The railway traverses three picturesque coastal bays—Quanzhou Bay, Meizhou Bay, and Anhai Bay—via meticulously designed bridges. Engineers have described the construction of these bridges as extraordinarily challenging due to the strong winds, high waves, deep waters, and the corrosive marine environment. Furthermore, the railway has been fortified to withstand earthquakes as it passes through a region with a high seismic risk.
Li Pingzhuo, the project manager of China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co., Ltd., the company responsible for the railway’s design, commented, “This railway line brings together almost all challenges encountered during the construction of previous high-speed rail projects.” The successful completion of the three bridges showcases China’s engineering prowess and commitment to pushing the boundaries of infrastructure development.
Expanding China’s high-speed rail network
The Fuzhou-Xiamen-Zhangzhou high-speed railway is the latest addition to China’s extensive high-speed rail network. By 2022, China boasted an operational high-speed railway network spanning an impressive 42,000 kilometers, ranking it first in the world. Notably, the length of high-speed rail operating at speeds of 350 km/h or more approached 3,200 kilometers as of June 2022.
Part of the cross-Strait integration efforts
A recent circular issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council designated Fujian as a demonstration zone for cross-Strait integrated development. This strategic move aims to enhance connectivity and integration between Fujian and Taiwan, creating a more cohesive and dynamic region.
Cong Liang, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, highlighted that an integrated multidimensional transportation network has been established in Fujian, providing the technical foundation for constructing a high-speed transport passage linking the province with Taiwan. This development underscores China’s commitment to fostering regional cooperation and economic growth through advanced transportation infrastructure.
The inauguration of the Fuzhou-Xiamen-Zhangzhou high-speed railway represents a significant leap forward for China’s transportation infrastructure. This engineering marvel not only reduces travel times and enhances connectivity within Fujian Province but also contributes to the broader goal of cross-Strait integration.