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ON THE HORIZON: The Yujiapu Railway Station
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The Yujiapu Railway Station

By Richard Cook

BT 201506 06 On The horizon 646547ffeca87ba041e9fe711d2305a2For a long time coming Tianjin's Binhai area has required a high-speed connection to Beijing. The need to cut down on the 2 hours it takes to get from Beijing to the Binhai area is a significant requirement for the desired economic advancement of this area. China is very proud of its high-speed infrastructure and has a right to be. But it also has a right to be proud of its artistic train stations and transportation hubs. Once more the authorities and their aides have delivered. Amongst the maze of casting and concrete in Binhai, there exists a strange metallic structure. To the naked eye it appears to be floating. Yet once you have a good look at it, you will see the shape of a seashell take form.

This remarkable artistic structure will house the latest high-speed rail inter-city link for Tianjin, the station being directly linked to Beijing's South station through Tianjin's central station. The infrastructure development is expected to dramatically increase Binhai's connectivity with not only the capital but also the rest of China's growing high-speed rail network. In the wake of the vast economical developments of the Tianjin - Binhai area, such an artistic and symbolic station emphasizes the importance of this connection.

It is China's first underground high-speed railway station, located 31 metres below the heart of the towering Binhai Yujiapu Financial District. Transportation time from Beijing South Station will be approximately 45 minutes, and from Tianjin Central station, a mere 15 minutes, slashing the 2 hour drive from the capital down to a brisk cost effective means of travel.

BT 201506 07 On The horizon 134215251 14308988041061nConstruction of the station began back in early 2009 and is now closing in on the finish line. Services are expected to begin in August following safety and operation tests. Testing of the station and the Tianjin - Binhai intercity line is scheduled to begin next month, as the final section of track between Tanggu Station and Yujiapu Station is now complete. The stations, as well as many of the district projects, were scheduled to open in June last year, but continuing on regional trends for construction and infrastructure development, it was running late.

As for the aesthetic design, Yujiapu station boasts the world's first single layer steel shell ceiling, a remarkable casting. It is one of only a handful of structures across the globe with ethylene tetrafluoroethylene next generation ultra-light plastic fittings. The ETFE feature brings the stature of the building onto par with world famous structures such as the Eden Project in the UK and the Beijing National Aquatics Centre. The use of ETFE within its roof provides the station with a transparent element, meaning sunlight emanates all around the building. This aspect has energy efficiency in mind, as this will reduce energy needs for lighting demands. Arup is behind the artistic design of the roof, pooling together its reputable expertise in blending architecture, facades, and acoustics and lighting aspects into its final design. The roof spans a massive 148 metres by 80 metres and reaches 24 metres in height. The overall project takes up 188,000 square metres, with the structure comprising of 93,000 square metres. Beyond its aesthetic qualities, the station is connected to the Yujiapu Financial District through a series of underground walkways and paths, meaning that passengers have a high degree of mobility once they exit the station.

The scale of the transportation hub, displays Chinese aspirations and expectations of the Tianjin Binhai economic area, as it continues its rise and development. With TEDA and the port close by, this station is one of the centre pieces of Tianjin's development and a crucial factor in the coming launch of the Yujiapu Financial District's economic preeminence.

However, this is not the final phase for the regional rail infrastructure development. The Tianjin Municipal Transportation Commission has revealed that it will be launching a new round of intercity train lines throughout the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei region. Planning has reportedly already been concluded and the execution of these new projects is now imminent meaning that the vast industrial cluster surrounding Tianjin and the capital will receive a significant infrastructure boost yet again. When pressed about the issue, the Tianjin Municipal Transportation Commission said the new developments would assist economic growth in the region and help upgrade the surrounding area by giving it a significant link to the modernized metropolises of Beijing and Tianjin.


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