The fact that this high-speed train can drive itself is quite remarkable. But halfway through the 56-minute journey, it passes through another engineering marvel: Badaling Great Wall Station.
Completed in 2019, the station is a stone’s throw from the Badaling entrance, the most popular section of the centuries-old wall. To protect the iconic landmark from structural damage, the railway line and accompanying station were built deep underground.
Preserving the Great Wall
Badaling Great Wall Station is the deepest high-speed railway station in the world.
Ren Chao/Xinhua/Getty Images
Buried 102 meters (335 feet) underground and covering an area of more than 36,000 square meters, the three-story structure is said to be the deepest and largest underground high-speed train station in the world.
According to Chinese state media, engineers used an electronic detonator to precisely time the explosives down to the millisecond. It was the first time the technology had been used in China and allowed workers to maintain vibration speeds of less than 0.2 centimeters per second.
This means that each explosion was precisely calculated to ensure that the impact would not be stronger than a single step on the Great Wall.
Care had to be taken that the construction did not damage the Great Wall.
As of 2016, the construction of the tunnel and the station took around three years.
The high-speed railway cuts the journey between the Chinese capital and the Badaling Great Wall from around 1.5 hours – traffic jams could make this time much longer – to around 27 minutes.
The station is a few minutes from the Great Wall cable car station and about 800 meters (0.5 miles) from the starting point of the Badaling Great Wall. It is also home to the second longest escalator in China, which is 88 meters long and 42 meters high.
Badaling Great Wall Station is part of the 170 km long Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway.
Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua/Getty Images
Due to the distance from the train platform, the station gate is closed to ticket holders 12 minutes before the last train departs, instead of the usual five minutes at other stations in China, to ensure that passengers have enough time to make their trip. way through the massive station.
Will the Great Wall make an appearance at the Winter Olympics?
Although there are no Olympic sports events near the Badaling Great Wall, it will be part of the torch relay, which will take place from February 2 to 4.
As a result, the station, as well as the Badaling section of the wall, is closed on February 2 and 3.
Badaling Railway Station is 800 meters from the public entrance to the Great Wall.
Ju Huanzong/Xinhua/Getty Images
Badaling is not the only part of the Great Wall that will appear on TV screens as part of the Winter Olympics ceremonies.
Chongli and Yanqing districts, two areas with Winter Olympic villages, also house parts of the old barricade.
The Winter Olympics high-speed train
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The 170 km long Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway is served by a new Fuxing high-speed electric multiple unit (EMU) train developed and operated by state-owned China State Railway Group.
Unveiled in early January, it can travel up to 350 kilometers (or 217 miles) per hour and cut travel time between two of the main host cities for the Olympics from three hours to 56 minutes.
Although the high-speed train is autonomous, a monitoring driver is on board at all times. The train can automatically start, stop and adapt to different speed limits between stations.
The new Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed train passes through the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall on January 25, 2022.
Jia Tianyong/Chinese Press Service/Getty Images
Special trolleys have been designed taking into account the needs of athletes. For example, some cabins have larger storage spaces for winter sports equipment, accessible by QR code.
In addition to the main railway line, there are also two branches, Yanqing and Chongli, which connect authorized passengers to two key Winter Olympic Villages.
Top image: an escalator inside the Badaling Station. Credit: Peng Ziyang/Xinhua/Alamthere