Golmud–Dunhuang Railway

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Golmud–Dunhuang Railway (Chinese: 格尔木至敦煌铁路; pinyin: Gé'ěrmù zhì Dūnhuáng tiělù), usually abbreviated as the Gedun Railway (Chinese: 格敦铁路; pinyin: Gé-Dūn tiělù) is a railway under construction in Northwestern China, between Golmud, Qinghai and Dunhuang, Gansu. [1]

The Golmud-Dunhuang railway will include a 506-kilometre (314 mi) single-track electrified rail line from the Yinmaxia station on the Qinghai–Tibet Railway north of Golmud to Dunhuang. Provisions will be made for the possible addition of a second track in the future.[1] Together with the existing section of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway from Yinmaxia to Golmud, the entire railway distance from Golmud to Dunhuang will be 658 kilometres (409 mi).[2] The railway will allow passenger trains to run at the speeds up to 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), and will carry freight trains of up to 4,000 tonnes (3,900 long tons; 4,400 short tons).[1]

The beginning of the construction of this line was announced in October 2012. The project is expected to take 5 years. Since Dunhuang, located in the westernmost part of Gansu, is already connected to the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway by the Liugou-Dunhuang branch (the Liudun Railway, 柳敦铁路), the Golmud-Dunhuang link will allow a fairly direct connection between Tibet and Xinjiang.[1]

The railway will mostly follow the route of China National Highway 215. It will be the first railway serving Gansu's Aksai Kazakh Autonomous County.[1]

Engineering challenges[edit]

The "megadunes" near Dunhuang

Around Shashangou, between Dunhuang and the Altyn-Tagh-Qilian mountain system, the railway will have to cross the eastern edge of the Kumtag Desert. There was a concern that the "megadunes" characteristic of this area may shift, burying the railway. However, geological research indicated that the "megadunes" are mostly formed by solid subsoil, rather than just sand. Although there is still the issue of drifting sand, it is thought by the experts that the sand is mostly blown along the direction of the future railway rather than across it, and can be handled with certain precautions.[3]

The railway will have 9 tunnels, with the total length of 32.62 km.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e 格尔木至敦煌铁路开工, Renmin Tielu Bao, 2012-10-20
  2. ^ a b 新建铁路敦煌至格尔木线环境影响评价第二次公示 (Environmental Impact Assessment of the Golmud–Dunhuang Railway), 2010-03-04
  3. ^ Study on the Feasibility of Dunhuang-Golmud Railway Crossing the Megadunes Area at the East Edge of Kumtagh Desert, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAREERI, CAS)