Chengdu-Guiyang High-Speed Railway – boosting cultural and natural diversity


A 648km high speed railway that has boosted ethnic minority cultural awareness and protected biodiversity.  

Chengdu-Guiyang High-Speed Railway traverses the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau transition zone featuring complicated terrain and complex geology. Just as importantly though, it passes through highly biodiverse areas and a culturally diverse region.

The new railway has been given an Award of Excellence by global infrastructure experts for how it integrates the natural ecology, regional culture and ethnic minority support along its route to create an unusually harmonious coexistence of all three.

Local community benefits
Since opening, more than 25 million passengers have travelled on the new line, which has helped to promote awareness of the diverse community it serves. Ethnic minority communities along the route have become more identifiable among people beyond the area, helping to promote understanding of their ways of life while supporting their development.

The high-speed railway has facilitated the economic development along the line to such an extent that the affected communities experienced significant economic growth even through 2020 despite the impact of Covid-19 around the world.

In part, this is thanks to railway tourism, spurred by the remarkable places connected – including the giant pandas’ hometown “Chengdu”, the iconic Dujiangyan and the Qingcheng Mountain, the Emei Mountain and the Leshan Giant Buddha. The line also connects people to the first city along the Yangtze River and the City of Wine, Yibin, as well as the unique the Zhijin Cave.

Environmental impact 
Traversing extensive waterways, one 204km section of the railway had to be specially designed to reflect the protected area of endemic and rare fish.

The upper reaches of the Yangyze River are home to 189 wild species of fish such as paddlefish, so large-span bridges were built over 11 rivers including the Jinsha River and the Minjiang River.

To make this work environmentally, vibration and noise reduction technologies were incorporated and construction and operation monitoring has been conducted to ensure rare fish along the route are not affected by the huge infrastructure project.

Along with the cultural and environmental challenges, the Chengdu-Guiyang line has been designed to withstand landslides and rockfalls along unstable mountainous stretches of track.

With the world’s largest span, highest pier height, and largest elevation difference between upper and lower decks (32m of elevation difference), the Jinsha River Bridge along the route is the only highway-railway dual-purpose steel box tied arch bridge with high-speed railway in the upper deck and highway in the lower deck.

The Award of Excellence has been given, as part of the 2021 FIDIC Project Awards, to eight global projects on the basis of sustainability and impact, and the remarkable sensitivity and outcomes of the Chengdu-Guiyang High-Speed Railway should make it a model for engineers to learn from. 

This project was nominated by China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co.

Diverse communities need to benefit from infrastructure investment.