A new bridge that will link Russia and China’s railway systems was completed on August 17, 2021, seven years after its much-heralded groundbreaking.
The structure’s full name is the China-Russia Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye Bridge. It connects Tongjiang, a city in China’s far northeastern Heilongjiang province, with Nizhneleninskoye, a town across the border with Russia along the banks of the Amur River.
Heilongjiang province’s capital is Harbin, known for its annual snow and ice festival.
This means that China’s northeast railway network can now be connected with the Russian Siberian Railway.
The bridge is 2,215 meters (7,300 feet) long and has been seven years in the making. Both countries held groundbreaking ceremonies in February 2014. The bridge structure was finished in 2019, and the final piece of track laid on August 17.
The majority of the bridge – 1,886 meters (6,200 feet) – is on the Chinese side.
The Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye Bridge isn’t the only bridge linking two of the world’s biggest countries. A road bridge – which can handle regular freight coming on trucks but not railway trains – was unveiled in 2019, connecting Heihe in China and Blagoveshchensk in Russia.
These two cities are also working on what will be the world’s first cross-national-border cable car, designed by Dutch architects UNStudio. When complete, it will be able to ferry tourists from one side to the other in less than eight minutes.
In addition, Mohe, China’s permafrost-covered northernmost city, was finally connected via highway to Beijing in 2019.
The Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye Bridge is the latest project completed under China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative, which aims to, among other things, connect Eurasia through infrastructure.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stated a goal to make it possible to go from China all the way to London via rail, which makes this bridge a critical next step in a longer journey across the continent.
According to China National Radio, with the completion of the bridge, the railway transportation distance from China’s Heilongjiang province to Moscow via Tongjiang will be shortened by 809 kilometers (500 miles), cutting 10 hours of transportation time. The bridge can reportedly handle 21 million metric tons of cargo per year.
CNN’s Shawn Deng contributed reporting.