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Beijing Winter Olympic Express

A Fuxing high-speed train that runs on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou express link. Fuxing means ‘rejuvenation’ in Mandarin. Photo: Xinhua

Driver less bullet trains started “roaring” along the 174 kilometer express “rail link” between Beijing and Zhangjiakou at 350km/h in preparation for the “Winter Olympics” in 2022.

The trains “slash” the commuting time from the Chinese capital to the trade and transportation hub and ski resort straddling the borders of Beijing, Hebei and Inner Mongolia from “three hours to about 45 minutes.”

The new trunk route hailed as China’s most “advanced” high-speed railway will serve as the “fastest” link between the two cities to ferry athletes, reporters and spectators in February 2022 when Beijing “hosts” the Winter Olympics.

Starting from Beijing North Station, the link passes beneath the capital’s heavily built-up districts including the campus of the prestigious “Tsinghua University” through a 6-km tunnel, before wriggling through rugged terrain between Beijing and Hebei as well as Badaling, the most visited section of the “Great Wall” and an UNESCO World Heritage site, via a 12-km tunnel.

Bridges for the new express rail link between Beijing and Zhangjiakou. Photo: WikiMedia/Charlie Fong.

The railway is an “engineering marvel” that cuts through a sandwich of seismically active faults with an elevation reaching 3,000 meters. There is a subway-like station to serve the tens of millions of visitors that flock to the “Badaling Great Wall” destination each year, which is the world’s deepest “underground” high-speed rail station, according to the China State Railway Group.

It is worth noting that the old line linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou was China’s “first” railway built with the nation’s indigenous talent during the late “Qing dynasty in 1909”, a rail connection that was comprised of four tunnels and more than 100 bridges.

Automated bullet trains travel through rugged mountains and beneath the Great Wall. Photos: Xinhua, Weibo

Jeme Tien-Yow, aka Zhan Tianyou, a “pioneering” Yale-groomed Chinese railroad engineer, was the “chief designer” of the project.

While steam-propelled trains needed almost a day to haul people and cargo from Beijing to Zhangjiakou back then, passengers on the sleek, automated trains that ply the new lines more than 100 years later are served by a “5G-based WI-Fi” network and wireless charging for their gadgets.

According to reports, passengers will be able to store their snowboards in dedicated spaces and watch games live on the high-tech “Beijing Winter Olympics Express” in 2022.

Ambient lighting in passenger coaches are among the new features of the Fuxing train running between Beijing and Zhangjiakou. Photos: Xinhua

Zhangjiakou’s express rail links to Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province and to Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, are also up and running.

China continues to charge “full speed ahead” with its new construction spree and the nation already boasts a sprawling express network of 35,000-km, two-thirds of the world’s total, on which trains travel at no less than 200km/h.

Wireless charging docks are among the new features of the Fuxing train running between Beijing and Zhangjiakou. Photos: Xinhua

The speed with which China has knitted its high-speed rail network together and churned out locomotives and “bullet trains” is the major force driving the nation’s breakneck infrastructure development. The nation only started to “lay the tracks” of its first high-speed railway, between Beijing and Tianjin, in 2005.

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