Chengdu–Kunming railway

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The Chengdu–Kunming railway or Chengkun railway (simplified Chinese: 成昆铁路; traditional Chinese: 成昆鐵路; pinyin: chéngkūn tiělù), is a major trunkline railroad in southwestern China between Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province and Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. The line is 1,134 km (705 mi) long and traverses rugged terrain from the Sichuan Basin to the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.[1] The line was built between 1958 and 1970. Major cities along route include Chengdu, Pengshan, Jiajiang, Emei, Ebian, Ganluo, Xide, Xichang, Dechang, Miyi and Panzhihua in Sichuan Province and Yuanmou, Lufeng, Anning and Kunming in Yunnan Province.

Chengdu–Kunming railway
China Railways.svg
Guancunba Station.jpg
Guancunba Station, on the old line next to the Dadu River (downstream of the Niuri River Valley), in Jinkouhe District, Leshan.
TypeHeavy rail
Operator(s)China Railway
Line length1,100 km (680 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
New double-track line

Chengdu East
Chengdu South
Left arrow Chengdu west loop
Right arrow to Chengdu North marshalling yard
MeishanMeishan East
original Chengdu–Kunming line
Leshan North
original Chengdu–Kunming line
destroyed in the 1970s
original replacement track
Left arrow
Chengdu–Guiyang HSR
(Emeishan branch)
Right arrow
Left arrow
Emei–Panzhihua railway
(part of the original line)
Shawan South
Ebian South
Jinkouhe South
Ganluo South
Yuexi South
Xide West
Right arrow Emei–Panzhihua railway
Right arrow Emei–Panzhihua railway
Yuehua West
Xichang West
Right arrow Huangshuitang link
Huangshuitang South
Dechang West
Yonglang West
Left arrow Miyi East link
Miyi East
Left arrow Miyi East link
Binggu East
old line
Chengdu–Lijiang expressway
Right arrow Panzhihua–old line link
Panzhihua South
Xianfeng ying
Right arrow
Yuanmou–Kunming railway from
Huangguayuan (part of the original line)
Yuanmou West
LowerRight arrow Yuanmou–Kunming railway
Yuanmou–Kunming railway
Guangtong North
Lufeng South
Left arrow Xinyamei Guwuliu freght yard line
Left arrow Kunming–Zhongyicun railway
Left arrow Anning line
Kunming West
Fala Spiral of Chengdu–Kunming railway
A memorial for workers who lost their lives in the construction of the railway in Jianshui County.

Construction of a largely new double-track line started in 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2023.[2] A northern section of the old line is now called the Emei–Panzhihua railway (shortened to E-Pan Railway) and a southern section is called the Yuanmou–Kunming railway (shortened to Yuankun railway).


The construction of the Luosuoguan Anning River Bridge on the Emei–Miyi double-track section in northern Dechang County, Sichuan, in August 2019.

Planning of the Chengdu–Kunming railway began in 1952 with several routes under consideration.[1] An eastern route would have run via Neijiang, Zigong, Yibin, Shuifu, Yanjin. Yiliang, Malong and Songming. A central route would have taken a similar route as far as Yibin and continued via Pingshan, Suijiang, Yongshan, Daguan, Qiaojia, Huize, Dongchuan and Songming. A western route would run via Meishan, Leshan, Ebian Yi, Ganluo, Xide, Xichang, Dechang, Huili and Guangtong. Soviet advisers recommended the central route as they considered the western route to be too difficult to build, because of its geography and geology, and that it could not be maintained because it would be prone to flooding, mudslides and earthquakes. Nevertheless, a committee headed by Zhou Enlai preferred the western route and this was eventually confirmed. It was considered to give access to important mineral deposits, passed through areas inhabited by ethnic minorities and had advantages for national defence.

The eastern route was later used for much of the Neijiang–Kunming railway, which was completed in 2001. The central route has similarities to the route of the proposed high-speed line between Chengdu and Kunming.

Construction began in 1958 during the Great Leap Forward and expanded to full-scale in 1964. Work was accelerated due to the American bombing of North Vietnam after the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The only rail connection to Kunming at that time ran through North Vietnam. In July 1970, the line was completed and entered into operation in January 1971.[1] The government published a pictorial in 1976 showing pictures of the construction and extreme terrain that required hundreds of tunnels and bridges.[3] Building conditions were hazardous and 2,100 workers perished during the construction of the original line.[4] On August 30, 2000, the entire line was electrified.[1] Aside from Chengdu and Kunming, the line has a total of 122 stations,[1][5] although many of these are now closed for passengers and some for freight operations. Four stations on either side of the Jinsha River (Yangtze) crossing were inundated by the Wudongde Dam in 2020.


Ivory carving of the Chengdu-Kunming railway presented as a gift to the United Nations on display at UN Headquarters in New York.

In 1974, an ivory sculpture commemorating the completion of the Chengdu–Kunming railway was presented as a gift to the United Nations and is displayed at the U.N. Headquarters in New York.[6] The sculpture depicts the rail bridge across the Dadu River between two mountain peaks, with intricate details of passengers inside the train.[7] The sculpture, 150 cm in length and 110 cm in height, was made from eight elephant tusks and weighs over 300 kilograms.[6]

Railway junctionsEdit

The Chengkun railway is a major trunkline in China's railway network and connects with numerous other railway lines including:[5]

Sichuan Province

Yunnan Province

Natural Disaster VulnerabilityEdit

Four sections of the railroad which pass through the Niuri River Valley, Manshuiwan to Xichang of the Anning River Valley, Jinsha River Valley and Longchuan River Valley are under the exposure of the vulnerable debris flow and landslide. Soviet experts used to make a prediction that the railroad "will be turned into a pile of scrap iron by violent nature even after it is completed" in the route design stage;[8] An Imagery Analysis Service Note published by CIA in October 1971 made a statement that "[the railroad] will undoubtedly require more than the normal maintenance because of the rugged terrain it passes through" based on the detected at least two replacement works of the destroyed tracks caused by landslides in the first year of its operation.[9]

Upon operation, major natural disasters were not occurred in the Anning River Valley and Longchuan River Valley section due to the thoughtful route selection and complete protection strategies adopted. However, the Niuri River Valley had a faster flow of the river - due to the short in length, steep channel, and unstable valley side slope - did not catch enough concerns in the construction period. Multiple incidents of debris flow have occurred in the Niuri River Valley section especially between Niri – Suxiong and Lianghong – Aidai.[10]

Double-track projectEdit

In the 21st century, with local economic growth, the single-track Chengdu-Kunming Railway has become congested. In order to create more capacity, the line is being replaced by a double track-line with longer tunnels and viaducts, although the original track has generally been retained as one of the two tracks between Chengdu and Emei. The Chengdu-Kunming railway double-track project is 900 kilometres long, with a design speed of 160 to 200 kilometres per hour, and a total investment of 55.2 billion yuan. Most of the new line runs near the old line, but on some sections of the route is significantly shortened and straightened. Therefore, the new line will be reduced by nearly 200 kilometres compared to the old 1091-kilometre line. After completion, it will only take about 7 hours from Chengdu to Kunming.[11]

Work on the new line commenced in 2010. Double-tracking of the section between Hualongmen and Pengshan was completed in June 2017.[12] The final 384 kilometre-long section between Emei and Miyi is due to be completed in 2023.[2]

A northern section of the old line is now called the Emei–Panzhihua railway (shortened to E-Pan Railway) and a southern section is called the Yuanmou–Kunming railway (shortened to Yuankun railway). The section of the old line between Huapengzi (south of Panzhihua) and Huangguayuan (north of Yuanmou) has been closed and flooded by the Wudongde Dam.

The new line will mainly handle freight. It is proposed that high-speed passenger services between Chengdu and Kunming will be provided by the Chengdu–Chongqing intercity railway (completed in 2015) from Chengdu to Neijiang North, the Southern Sichuan intercity railway (due to open in 2023) from Neijiang North to a new station in Yibin, and the Chongqing–Kunming high-speed railway (approved by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2019) from Yibin to Kunming.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e 《中国铁路线》 P25-26 Last Accessed 2011-07-31
  2. ^ a b "成昆铁路复线米攀段开通运营全线仅剩峨米段在建,预计2023年开通". 凉山新闻网 (in Chinese). 2 June 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Mountains and Rivers Make Way: The Chengtu-Kunming Railroad in Photographs," published by the Foreign Languages Press (Peking: 1976).
  4. ^ (Chinese) "成昆铁路:生命铺就的英雄史诗" Archived May 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Last Accessed 2011-07-31
  5. ^ a b Quail Map Company (2008). China railway Atlas (third ed.). Quail Map Company. ISBN 978-1-898319-82-5.
  6. ^ a b "Chinese Ivory Carving" Archived August 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Last Accessed 2011-07-31
  7. ^ "China Presents Ivory Carving to United Nations" Last Accessed 2011-07-31
  8. ^ "成昆铁路40年 与灾害正面交锋的40年". 云南网 昆明铁道报 (in Chinese). 新浪网. 2010-07-13.
  9. ^ "Construction of Cheng-tu/Kun-ming Rail Line was a Major Engineering Accomplishment" (PDF). Imagery Analysis Service Note. CIA. 1971-10-08. p. 2 – via Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room. .
  10. ^ 严壁玉; 王茂靖 (2005). "穿越"地质博物馆"的成昆铁路". 铁道工程学报 (in Chinese). doi:10.3969/j.issn.1006-2106.2005.z1.027.
  11. ^ "成昆铁路复线年内开工 2014年建成" [Construction of the Chengdu-Kunming railway double track will start within the year and will be completed in 2014] (in Chinese). 15 March 2009. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "成昆铁路复线花龙门至彭山段通车[组图]" [Chengkun Railway Complex Hualongmen to Pengshan Section Opens to Traffic]. 图片中国 (in Chinese). 22 June 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2021.

External linksEdit