Rail Transport in Yunnan

The first railway in Yunnan, the Kunming–Hanoi Railway (Sino-Vietnamese Railway), dates back to 1910. In 1941, American-supported construction began on the English Yunnan–Burma Railway, but this was aborted due to Japanese advances. The building of railways in Yunnan is difficult due to rugged terrain locally and in neighboring provinces. The rugged terrains requires rail lines to have extensive bridges and tunnels which adds to construction cost. Yunnan is one of the poorest provinces in China and the construction of railways is capital intensive. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Yunnan Province has experienced two periods of railway construction—from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s and from the mid-1990s to the present, which have connected the province with the national rail network and expanded the provincial rail network.

At present, railways in operation in Yunnan include:

The Dali-Lijiang Railway opened in 2009, is one of the newest railways in Yunnan. Pictured, a viaduct on the Da-Li line near Lijiang.

  • Yunnan–Vietnam Railway 855 km (531 mi) including 466 km (290 mi) in Yunnan, completed in 1910
  • Guiyang–Kunming Railway 640 km (398 mi), completed in 1966
  • Chengdu–Kunming Railway 1,134 km (705 mi), completed in 1970
  • Nanning–Kunming Railway 898.7 km (558 mi), completed in 1997
  • Neijiang–Kunming Railway 872 km (542 mi), completed in parts in 1960, 1965 and 2001
  • Pan County West Railway 136.3 km (85 mi), completed in part in 1975
  • Kunming–Hekou line, consisting of the following sections:
    • Kunming–Yuxi Railway 55.5 km (34 mi), completed in 1993
    • Yuxi–Mengzi Railway 141 km (88 mi), completed in 2013
    • Mengzi–Hekou Railway 140 km (87 mi), completed in 2014
  • Guangtong–Dali Railway 213 km (132 mi), completed in 1998
  • Dali–Lijiang Railway 165 km (103 mi), completed in 2009

The current network is centered around Kunming and most extensive in eastern Yunnan with outlets to Guizhou and on to the Yangtze River valley and Guangxi and on to the South China coast.

Since the late 1990s, the railway network in Yunnan has undergone considerable track upgrade and electrification to boost carrying capacity. Expansion projects include:

  • Lijiang–Shangri-La Railway from Lijiang to Shangri-La (Zhongdian), construction began in 2010.
  • Yunnan to Guilin – construction to start next year and finish in 2015
  • A rail line around Dianchi Lake: scheduled for completion in 2010
  • Guangtong to Dali electrification