A joint venture between China and Russia has completed the construction of the first railway bridge linking the two countries. The 7.19-kilometer bridge, whose construction began in 2014, will link the cities of Tongjiang in northeastern China and Nizhneleninskoye in eastern Russia.
The works faced problems such as the different track gauges in the two countries – 1,435 millimeters on the Chinese tracks and 1,520 on the Russian ones – and the harsh weather conditions in winter. A large part of the the bridge, or 1,886 meters, is on the Chinese side.
The bridge will shorten the route between Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province, and Moscow by 809 kilometers compared to current rail connections. According to CNN, 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, opened in 2019. It connects Heihe in China and Blagoveshchensk in Russia.
State media have noted that closer integration with the Russian neighbor would benefit a revitalization of China’s northeast, whose three regions (Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning) have often shown below-average economic growth in recent years.
China and Russia share a border of more than 4,000 kilometers that has been closed to the vast majority of travelers – not goods – since last year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The border separates two demographically disparate territories: the Russian Far East, with 6.2 million inhabitants according to the 2010 census, and northeastern China, home to more than 100 million people.
CNN reports that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made its goal to make it possible to go from China all the way to London via rail. The Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye Bridge is seen as a critical step in a longer journey across the continent.