A new railway line that connects two key cities of Southwest China and plays an important role in linking the region to the ASEAN nations of South East Asia was officially launched on the 26th of December 2022. The Chengkun railway runs a total of 915 kilometers from Chengdu, in Sichuan province, to Kunming, in Yunnan province, with intermittent stops that include Meishan, Leshan, Liangshan, Panzhihua and Chuxiong. From Kunming, the network continues on to Laos and beyond to Thailand, Vietnam and ultimately Singapore.
This class I double-line electrified rail route travels at speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour and will make a significant impact on travel times, reducing the journey from Kunming to Panzhihua, Xichang and Chengdu to 2.5 hours, 4 hours and 6 hours respectively. Traffic on the original line has increased substantially in recent years, and this new track will thus offer much-needed additional capacity to meet the demands required of such a busy route.
Work on the original Chengdu-Kunming line began in 1958, requiring 12 intensive years of construction before finally opening in 1970. The complex topography of this route, which runs through significant mountain ranges, meant it has sometimes been referred to as a 'geological museum'. The immense amount of manpower that went into engineering the line have seen it recognized as one of the crowning achievements of the China's vast rail network.
Like its predecessor, this new line has required incredible engineering and labor efforts in order come to fruition, crossing multiple rivers and traversing the Emei, Liangshan and Hengduan mountain ranges that lie between the two cities. Unavoidably given the rugged landscape, the tracks pass through multiple tunnels, the longest of which is 22 kilometers in length, as well as crossing many purpose-built bridges that span the region's famed rivers.
Booking for the new line was opened on December 24. Those wanting to reserve tickets can do so via the usual official channels, such as the 'China Railway' WeChat account or the 12306.com website.