Self-developed technologies, equipment contribute to China’s major infrastructure projects

China’s infrastructure saw rapid development in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period, during which a large number of self-developed technologies and equipment contributed to faster infrastructure construction.

Over the past five years, a number of major projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Beijing Daxing International Airport were put into operation.

The Kunlun, a 1,000-tonne bridge girder erection machine (Photo/

By the end of this year, the country’s high-speed rail mileage and highway network are expected to reach 38,000 km and 155,000 km respectively, and the number of civilian transport airports are expected to hit 242.

Recently, the world’s first 1,000-tonne bridge girder erection machine was put into use in southeast China’s Fujian province, erecting box girders on the construction site of the Meizhou Bay cross-sea bridge of the Fuzhou-Xiamen high-speed railway. The Kunlun is capable of erecting a 1,000-tonne box girder with a maximum span of 40 meters.

The mega-machine was developed and manufactured by China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, a large construction and engineering company under the direct supervision of China’s State Council.

The Kunlun can reduce girder erection costs by about 20 percent and increase speed by about 30 percent, said Wang Bo, a project leader of the high-speed railway project, adding that the mechanical giant will provide technical support and guarantees for the country’s high-speed trains, which are expected to travel at above 400km/h in the future.

On Nov. 9, an 18,000-ton bridge section was rotated into position during the construction of an overpass over the Xinxiang-Yanzhou railway in Jining, east China’s Shandong province, marking a new breakthrough in the country’s overpass construction.

According to Zhang Zhihua, a leader of the project undertaken by China Railway 25th Bureau Group Co., Ltd., the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) was applied during the project to ensure the accurate positioning of the rotating body and the pier.

The BDS outperforms GPS in terms of signal strength and measurement accuracy, better guaranteeing the project’s safety, said Liu Chengqi, chief engineer of the project.

As a major innovation, China’s home-made and independently operated BDS reached a new level during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. Since November 2017, China has successfully launched 30 satellites, making it the third country in the world to independently own a global navigation satellite system.

The application of BDS has provided a more efficient means of constructing transportation infrastructure in the country, the chief engineer noted.

On Oct. 30, China’s first tunnel across the Yellow River was drilled by a gigantic Chinese-made shield tunneling machine in Jinan, capital of Shandong province. With a total length of 4.76 km, the tunnel contains two levels of highway and rail transit.

As the country’s widest shield tunnel for both rail and road transport, it serves as a shield tunnel beneath a “hanging river,” as the riverbed of this section of the Yellow River sits above downtown Jinan.

In recent years, China has made remarkable progress in independently manufacturing shield tunneling machines, thanks to efforts of leading manufacturers such as China Railway Engineering Equipment Group Co., Ltd. and China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Corporation Limited (CRCHI).

According to statistics, the country produces about 500 sets of shield tunneling machines each year, with an annual output value of about 30 billion yuan (about $4.3 billion) and a net profit of about 5 billion yuan, given an average unit price of 60 million yuan.

By 2035, the total length of China’s railway tracks will reach about 200,000 km, including 70,000 km of high-speed railway, according to a recent outline on China’s railway development in the new era, said CRCHI chairman Liu Feixiang.

CRCHI will continue to develop new shield tunneling machines to enable China to move from being a big manufacturer of shield tunneling machines to a major innovator, Liu added.

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