Smart tech boosts ‘most beautiful rail’

BEIJING: China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group (CTCE), a state-owned construction behemoth, used the country’s first intelligent track-laying facilities to lay a pair of 500-m-long ballast-free track segments for a 38.24 billion yuan (US$5.92bil or RM24.7bil), 246.6-km high-speed railway line.

The Zhangjiajie-Jishou-Huaihua high-speed railway (HSR), which is nearing completion, traverses the Wuling Mountains, which stretch across Central China and Southwestern China.

The HSR will link three cities in western Hunan province, and benefit from the intelligent complex composed of four sets of equipment developed by the 70-year-old CTCE.

The line will have eight stops, numerous bridges and mountain tunnels, and trains can reach speeds of up to 350km per hour, and benefit some 7.85 million residents in the mountainous area, said Song Heng, a CTCE publicity official.

At the order of Duan Qinan, a chief engineer from CTCE Eighth Engineering Co Ltd, which carried out the project, three drivers operated the long-rail intelligent sorting vehicle, push and roller recovery vehicle, and the tractor for the WPZ-500 Model facility, respectively, in close coordination, to nimbly lay the pair of railway tracks with great precision.

The operation was witnessed by a large group of select invitees comprising industry representatives.

“The project began in 2019, and its successful operation now gives us great confidence, ” said Zhai Changqing, Duan’s colleague and a master engineer who oversees its development.

It will be especially useful in special areas with high altitudes, low temperatures and where laborers are in short supply, Zhai said.

Compared with traditional methods, the smart track-laying technology can help save some 63% on on-site labourers, upgrade the degree of track-laying mechanisation to 90%, while also reducing damage to construction materials, he said.

“If it is used in building the Sichuan-Tibet HSR in the future, the gains in saving manpower, boosting speed and reducing material damage will be enormous.”

Duan said the smart technology fills a void and demonstrates CTCE’s endeavour to meet China’s strategic call for intelligent construction and high-quality development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).

CTCE has been following parent company China Railway Group Ltd’s new focus on digital and intelligent construction, and intends to be a pioneer in the new sphere, he said.

During the past few years, CTCE Eighth Engineering has set up the “National Model Worker Zhai Changqing Innovation Studio”.

It also formed a team to pursue joint studies, research and development, production and application of new breakthroughs in building the Zhangjiajie-Jishou-Huaihua High-speed Railway, said Xu Guo, publicity chief of CTCE.

The WPZ-500 unit has made full use of some cutting-edge technologies like intelligent robots, the Internet of things, big data, laser scanners for precise positioning and AGV (automated guided vehicle) automatic tracking, Duan said.

It can now complete a series of work processes, covering precise traction and pushing of long rails, precise placement and automatic recovery of rollers on the railway line, stacking and reverse transportation, he said. — China Daily/ANN

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