8 Trains Through The Strangest Places

Trains That Pass Through The Weirdest Places

1. Crowded Chinese City Has Train Passing Straight Through 19-Floor Residential Building

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Due to the unique topography and high construction density of Chongqing, one of the most populated cities in China, architects and city planners had to come up with a unique way of developing a vital monorail line. Their solution – having the train pass straight through a 19-floor apartment building.

With the Daba, Wushan, Wuling, and Dalou Mountains to its north, east and south, most of Chongqing’s terrain is made up of hill slopes. That coupled with the lack of space due to the high building density and a population of around 49 million people, makes working on infrastructure a real challenge for architects and city planners. In 2004, when the Rail Transit No.2 was approved, they only had two choices – either tear down the whole apartment building to make room for the monorail, or clear up two floors and make a tunnel, so the train can pass through it. As unconventional as it seems, experts went for the second option, and 13 years later they are still convinced it was the right thing to do.

“Our city is very heavily built upon and that can make finding room for roads and railway lines a real challenge,” a Chongqing Rail Transit Group spokesperson said in 2014. “Sometimes there just isn’t room on the ground so we have to think about going under, or over, or – in this case – straight through. In a city as fast paced as this it was clear people wanted to get around quickly. Extending the railway line this way was a gamble, but it was one that paid off.”

And if a monorail train passing though the middle of an apartment building wasn’t weird enough, there’s also a passenger station set up on the 7th and 8th floors. So residents can literally walk out the front door of their home and jump into the train.

You would think that having a train pass through the apartment building several times a day would bring the property value down, but it’s actually the other way around. The station located in the building has actually increased the price of apartments because it makes public transportation so easily accessible.

As for the noise, Rail Transit No.2 is a light monorail and since the building was fitted with noise reduction equipment, the passing train is said to only be as loud as a dishwasher.

2. The Hanoi Street That Has A Train Track Through It

Most of the time, railroad tracks are expertly marked, warning passersby to keep a look out for oncoming trains, but what if you the tracks were literally steps from your front door?

So is the case for many in Hanoi. Amidst a busy city street, people live and work alongside the railroad tracks found in the city’s Old Quarter, and only move temporarily when the train passes through. Shops are shut down, and immediately re-opened just as soon as the train brushes past.

3. Gotthard tunnel: World's longest and deepest rail tunnel opens in Switzerland

The 57km (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.

Switzerland says it will revolutionise European freight transport.

Goods currently carried on the route by a million lorries a year will go by train instead.

The tunnel has overtaken Japan's 53.9km Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and pushed the 50.5km Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France into third place.

In a speech to guests in Erstfeld, near the northern entrance to the tunnel, Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann said it was a "giant step for Switzerland but equally for our neighbours and the rest of the continent".

A live relay carried a speech from the southern end of the tunnel, in Bodio, by the Swiss federal transport minister, Doris Leuthard.

Afterwards two trains set off in opposite directions through the tunnel, each carrying hundreds of guests who had won tickets in a draw, and the new route was formally open.

A lavish show then got under way for the assembled guests in Erstfeld, with dancers, acrobats, singers and musicians celebrating Alpine culture and history.

European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern also attended the day's events.

Mr Hollande, who took part with others in a follow-up trip through the tunnel on a train, emerged on the southern side to give a speech in which he compared the Gotthard to the Channel Tunnel.

Recalling the great Franco-British project, which was completed in 1994, he said: "Nobody could have imagined that one day you would be able to travel from England to France in that way."

"Since then we are more united than ever and I hope the British will remember that when the day comes," he added, to laughter and applause from the audience in the Swiss village of Pollegio.

The French leader went on to praise European aspirations, including the free movement of people and goods.

The presence of high-level guests at the opening shows that the new tunnel is about more than protecting the Alpine environment, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes reports.

Europe's goods, whether Italian wine for the Netherlands or German cars for Greece, have to cross the Alps. Now they will able to do so more quickly, more safely, and more cheaply, our correspondent says.

The project, which cost more than $12bn (£8.3bn) to build, was endorsed by Swiss voters in a referendum in 1992.

Voters then backed a proposal from environmental groups to move all freight travelling through Switzerland from road to rail two years later.

The completed tunnel travels up to 2.3 km below the surface of the mountains above and through rock that reaches temperatures of 46C.

Engineers had to dig and blast through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite and others as soft as sugar. More than 28m tonnes of rock was excavated, which was then broken down to help make the concrete used to build the tunnel.

Now the completed tunnel, delivered on time and within budget, will create a mainline rail connection between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa in Italy.

When full services begin in December, the journey time for travellers between Zurich and Milan will be reduced by an hour to two hours and 40 minutes.

The tunnel's course is flat and straight instead of winding up through the mountains like the old rail tunnel and a road tunnel opened in 1980.

About 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will pass through the tunnel each day in a journey taking as little as 17 minutes.

The tunnel is being financed by value-added and fuel taxes, road charges on heavy vehicles and state loans that are due to be repaid within a decade.

Swiss bank Credit Suisse has said its economic benefits will include the easier movement of goods and increased tourism.

Nine workers died in accidents while the tunnel was under construction.

Four were Germans, three Italians, and one each came from South Africa and Austria, according to German news agency dpa. They are commemorated by a plaque near the northern end of the tunnel, Swiss media report.

4. Gisborne Airport; Railway Line Intersecting the Runway

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Gisborne Airport is a undersized regional airport that is situated on the western outskirts of Gisborne, the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The unique thing about this airport is one of the very few airports in the world that has a railway line intersecting the runway. The beautiful Gisborne airport covers a land of 160 hectares has three grass runways and one main runway that are intersected by the Palmerston North – Gisborne Railway Line. The airport has a single terminal with two tarmac gates.

The Tasmania’s North Western Coast, Wynyard Airport also had a railway crossing on the runway but moribund rail traffic forced the closure of rail traffic in early 2005, and thus the Wynyard airport rail crossing is no more operational. At Gisborne Airport on the other hand, the rail route functions actively and so does the airport everyday between 6:30 in the morning and 8:30 at night. After that, the runway is sealed off till morning.

One of the more appealing aspects of the Napier-Gisborne railway line is when the line passes directly on top of the Gisborne Airport runway; trains have to stop and look for clearance from the air traffic control tower to cross the runway and continue down the line. The railway tracks splits the runway approximately in the middle and very often trains or aircraft are stopped until one of them moves on.

Indeed it is a very challenging job for the airport authorities to manage landing at the intersecting runway along the operational rail route which has scheduled departures and arrivals itself. The Gisborne airport is a main link to enter the little region of Gisborne and hosts more than 60 domestic flights, and over 150,0000 passengers fly through this airport each year.

5. The Brusio Spiral Viaduct in Switzerland

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The Brusio spiral viaduct is a single track nine-arched stone spiral railway viaduct located in Brusio, in the Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. Like most spiral tracks, the Brusio spiral viaduct was built to permit trains to get elevation in a relatively short distance. The spiral viaduct is 110 meters long, has a horizontal radius of curvature of 70 meters, a longitudinal slope of 7%, and is made up of nine spans, each 10 meters in length. The viaduct lifts the train by 20 meters. The Brusio spiral viaduct forms part of the Bernina Railway section between Brusio and Campascio, and are about 55 KM from St. Moritz.

The stone-built viaduct was opened on 1 July 1908, upon the opening of the Tirano–Poschiavo section of the Bernina Railway. In 1943, the entire railway company was taken over by the Rhaetian Railway, which still owns and uses 40 seconds after passing under the viaduct near Brusio, BERNINA EXPRESS 960 Tirano-Davos with Allegra trainset ABe 8/12 3505 “Giovanni Segantini” and 6 panorama coaches is completing the spiral. In the center the temporary labyrinth, an installation for the 100th anniversary of the Bernina line.

6. The Hindenburgdamm Causeway

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The Hindenburgdamm or Hindenburg Dam is an 11 km-long causeway joining the North Frisian island of Sylt to mainland Schleswig-Holstein, off the coast of Germany. It was opened in 1927 exclusively for rail transport. Before the causeway was built, the connection to the island was at the mercy of the tides, and in winter, the ice in the Wadden Sea formed an impenetrable barrier. The crossing took about six hours in adverse weather and flow conditions lasted longer. As the seaside resort of Westerland, on Sylt, became increasingly popular, officials started planning for the rail causeway.

The original plan was to build a train route from the port at the Hoyerschleuse to the island, but after World War I, Germany was obliged to cede the Hoyerschleuse to Denmark while Sylt remained part of Germany. Owing to the new border, the old route to Sylt was now cut off, except if travellers wanted to go to the trouble of obtaining a Danish visa to make a short trip through Danish territory. Because the situation was unacceptable, the causeway re-routed entirely through Germany.

Construction of the causeway began in 1923 and during the next four years, more than three million were cubic meters of sand and clay, as well as 120,000 tons of stones were moved from the mainland to the site. The dam was named after the then Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, who opened the railway on 1 June 1927.

For the first 45 years of its existence the Hindenburgdamm had a single track. In 1972 it was widened and a second track was laid. Today, more than 100 trains pass over the causeway every day, with half of those ferrying cars as there is no road link to Sylt.

7. China plans a 13,000 km rail line to America passing through an under-ocean tunnel

Once the line is put to use the entire trip would take two days, with the train travelling at an average of 350kmph.

Beijing: China plans to build an ambitious 13,000 km rail line to operate bullet trains to America through Russia passing through a tunnel underneath the Pacific Ocean to reach the continental US via Alaska and Canada.

The proposed line beginning from China's north east could go through Russia's eastern Siberia, the Bering Strait, Alaska, Canada and then reach the contiguous US, Wang Mengshu, a tunnel and railway expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Chinese official media.

Once the line is put to use, bullet trains can run at 350 km per hour, enabling passengers to travel from northeastern China to the US in less than two days, he said, adding that Russia, which is heavily dependent on rail transport like China, is also progressively advocating the idea.

Crossing the Bering Strait in between Russia and Alaska would require about 200km of undersea tunnel, the Beijing Times newspaper reported, citing Wang.

"Right now we re already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years," Wang said.
The project - nicknamed the 'China-Russia plus America line' - would run for 13,000km, about 3,000km further than the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The entire trip would take two days, with the train travelling at an average of 350kmh.

Meanwhile, the official said the construction of ambitious Trans-Asian Railway Network connecting China with Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore is set to commence next month.

The plan will begin with the construction of a 30-km long tunnel, stated to be the longest in Asia connecting China with Myanmar.

The engineering difficulties equivalent to those found in the construction of rail lines on the permafrost in Tibet, Wang said.

China has already built a rail network up to Xigaze close to Arunachal Pradesh border.

China has completed 11028 km of high speed train network and another 12000 km tracks under construction.

Chinese officials in 2010 spoke of China's wish building a high speed train network connecting India and Pakistan.

The National Development and Reform Commission approved the project, and engineers and worker representatives have come up with techniques to overcome geological complexities that could pose challenges, Wang said.

"Another important project, the Nujiang River Rail Bridge, will also be launched soon," Wang added, noting that both the bridge and the tunnel are elements of the Dali-Ruili Railway, which will extend 330 km to link China with its neighbour Myanmar.

China has already commenced a oil and gas pipeline from Myanmar. The rail lines constitute the southern part of the Trans-Asian Railway, which was initiated in the 1960s and began to take shape after 18 countries endorsed an agreement in November 2006, it said.

Some sections of the railway suitable for high-speed operation will allow trains to run at 250 km per hour. Other sections will hold speeds to a maximum of 180 kph, Wang said.

Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang who is currently touring Africa, has offered to construct a host of high speed railway.

While railway construction engineers are pushing for more grand projects, some officials have warned the government to think seriously about them as the Chinese railway is in red with losses to the tune of billions of dollars.

Experts in Beijing Jiaotong University said China should make sure it has enough money for such a massive project.

"China s railway sector is still being haunted by deep debts. Therefore, even with the government s support, it must persuade banks to lend a colossal amount of money," he said.

China could loose out from these ambitions railways plans as it will take decades for the countries where the rail lines are laid with Chinese money could take decades to pay back, Zhao Jian, a profession at the same University said.

Other Chinese officials consider the rail network construction as a stimulus to revive growth rates of Chinese economy which slowed down to 7.8 per cent last year.

8. Bloomer Cut

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When Bloomer Cut was completed in 1864, it was hailed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and has remained virtually unchanged ever since. The cut is one of few Transcontinental Railroad landmarks that have survived the ravages of time.

In 1862, Indiana State Representative William Holman remarked about the Transcontinental Railroad that it…“could never be constructed on terms applicable to ordinary roads…it is to be constructed through almost impassable mountains, deep ravines, canyons, gorges, and over arid and sandy plains.” Representative Holman identified most of the obstacles that faced the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and Bloomer Cut is a stunning, historic example of how those obstacles were overcome. The cut is an engineering marvel and a testament to the strength and determination of the laborers who built it.

Bloomer Cut is located at the end of Herdal Drive in Auburn, California (no physical address).

Driving Directions: From eastbound I-80 take the Maple Street exit in Auburn and stay straight. Go through the stoplight and continue on Auburn Folsom Road. After about 1 ¼ miles, turn right onto Herdal Drive. Park where Herdal Drive ends at Quinn Way and take the walking trail heading west. Bloomer Cut will be about 300 feet ahead.

From westbound I-80 take the Hwy 49 Grass Valley/Placerville exit in Auburn and turn right onto Highway 49. Turn right onto Lincoln Way, left at the next stoplight onto Auburn Folsom Road, and then follow the directions above.

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