People’s Republic of China: Yichang-Wanzhou Railway Project
sector: Transport | country: China, People’s Republic of
Station location and capacity. There is no passenger railway station on the single track between Lichuan and Wanzhou, although the section is 89 km long. A feasibility study is recommended to decide whether or not passenger railway stations should be opened along the single-track section, as this would benefit local people. Changyang Station on the double-track section is located in Changyang Tuji Autonomous County under the Yichang Prefecture. High-speed trains are not able to stop at the station since the platform length is not enough to accommodate them. High-speed trains stops at the station will increase benefits to the people in the minority county, whose population is about 400,000, while additional stops will lower benefits for transit passengers. Thus, a feasibility study of increasing Changyang Station’s capacity is recommended.
Capacity constraint on other railway lines in the freight corridor. It was originally intended that the Yichang-Wanzhou Railway (YWR) would link the PRC’s east and west for freight and passenger transport. However, the capacity constraint of several lines in this freight corridor prevents the extensive use of the railway for freight, while a long-distance passenger railway corridor was established. This issue was set aside when the railway’s primary purpose shifted to the development of the long-distance passenger railway corridor. However, several adjacent lines will become bottlenecks if freight trains on the railway increase. Enhanced capacities of adjacent lines of railway will be needed to increase railway freight trains to meet local freight traffic needs and help develop the local area. Future railway plans need to analyze the capacity of the other railway lines that affect the project railway line.
Intermodal freight transport. In future planning of railways, given increasing competitiveness of inland waterways, intermodal transport combining railways and inland waterways needs to be considered. One reason for the overestimation of freight traffic at appraisal was the expectation that the freight traffic on the Yichang-Wanzhou Railway would shift from inland waterways, but it did not happen. This is because (i) the tariff for inland waterways in the Yangtze River decreased significantly during this decade following the introduction of larger ships and (ii) a railway link with the Wanzhou port contributed to the increase of freight for inland waterways.
Over-specification for double-stack containers. The Yichang-Wanzhou Railway was designed to accommodate double-stack container trains, and this has major implications for tunnels, which were all constructed to meet this requirement. Accommodating double-stack containers is a national standard for new railway lines, but double-stack containers are not yet used widely in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Although this is not an issue at the project level, there is a need to review whether this requirement is applied to all new railway lines or to follow-up on the future utilization plan for double-stack containers.