Chinese rail engineers succeed in replacing bridge section in four hours

CRCC posted a picture of the machine in action on its Weibo account
Chinese engineers this week used a smart machine to replace a section of railway bridge in four hours, the South China Morning Post reports.

China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) said it used the world’s first machine of its type – called the “Taihang” – to replace the worn-out section in Hebei province.

It claimed the operation as a world record on the grounds that the fastest previous replacement took 12 hours.

The line connects the western coal-producing region of Shaanxi to the port of Huanghua, and the replacement was made without disrupting traffic.

The machine, which is named after the Taihang mountain range, is itself transported by rail, and then “unfolded” at the work site.

CRCC said the Taihang has precise positioning and adjustment mechanisms that enable it to handle a wide variety of bridges. The process begins by preparing the replacement section at a nearby station, then loading on to the Taihang and taking it to the section that needs replacing.

Once in position, the Taihang reconfigures to lift the existing section, load it onto a vehicle and install the new section, after which it compacts the track bed using hammers.

The successful operation is significant for China’s 155,000km rail network, given that some 40% of its bridges are more than three decades old. As the system continues to expand and age, the volume of maintenance work will increase, as will the need to work with minimum disruption.

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