China News Service, Jiamusi, February 11, Title: Border Bridge Guarding Team: Protecting the China-Europe Railway Trains from traveling safely in the extreme cold

  Author Di Pengkun and Li Xinghai

  At 6 o'clock on the 11th, after changing their work clothes and taking inventory of their tools, eight bridge and tunnel workers from the road and bridge workshop of the Jiamusi Works Section of China Railway Harbin Bureau Group Co., Ltd. were ready to rush to Heilongjiang, the border river between China and Russia, more than 100 kilometers away.

  The Tongjiang-China-Russia-Heilongjiang Railway Bridge is an important node on the east channel of the China-Europe trains along the Belt and Road Initiative. The bridge is guarded by a group of young people, with an average age of only 26 years old. The hardest part of each inspection is to inspect the riverbed of the bridge. Survey work.

China Railway Harbin Bureau Group Co., Ltd. Jiamusi Works Section Road and Bridge Workshop Bridge and Tunnel Workers Prepare to Departure Photo by Li Xinghai

  After more than 2 hours of driving, they arrived at the work site.

  "It's really much colder here than in my hometown. Heaters don't work at all. It's just that biting cold." Wang Zhongyang, a bridge and tunnel engineer at the road and bridge workshop of the Jiamusi Engineering Section of the China Railway Harbin Bureau Group Company, is from Hebei. Two years ago, I came to work in the road and bridge workshop of Jiamusi Public Works Section. The winter here was colder than he had ever felt before.

  There is no obstruction on the endless river surface, and the cold wind blows directly on the face like a knife. With a temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius, the body temperature is even lower. In such an environment, they had to carry tools and walk for another 40 minutes to reach the measurement point.

It takes 40 minutes for the bridge and tunnel workers to reach the measurement point on foot. Photo by Li Xinghai

  The Tongjiang China-Russia Heilongjiang Railway Bridge will be officially opened to traffic in November 2022. It is the first railway bridge spanning Heilongjiang, the border river between China and Russia. The main bridge is 2,215 meters long, and the length of the bridge in Chinese territory is 1,886 meters. Every winter, inspection teams conduct surveys of bridges in China.

  They need to take the bridge as the center and determine three survey lines parallel to the bridge 25 meters upstream and downstream. On these three lines, a measurement point must be set up every 10 meters. Due to the depth of the river and the rapid flow of water, in order to ensure personnel safety and measurement accuracy, the railway department can only choose to conduct surveys in winter.

  "Every year we have to measure this bridge, measure its data, and then go back and synthesize it to see if there are any changes in the piers, whether there is any deflection, etc." said Jiang Chuanyang, team leader of the road and bridge workshop of the Jiamusi Works Section. Facing the biting river wind, he and his co-workers held ice drills, and the spiral ice blades rolled up ice ballast and splashed everywhere. Several ice caves were dug in succession.

Jiang Chuanyang and Wang Zhongyang work together to operate the machine and start work. Photo by Li Xinghai

  Jiang Chuanyang: "Is it frozen?"

  Wang Zhongyang said: "It's freezing. It's too cold. It freezes when you get out of the water. You can't even pull it out."

  Not long after the measuring rope was put into the water, it froze at the entrance of the hole. They dug and pulled at the same time, and finally completed the measurement task of a point. "This point is 5 meters 2, record it." Jiang Chuanyang communicated with the workers.

  With every blow, ice particles flew everywhere. Soon, their clothes and gloves were covered with broken ice. Due to the low temperature, the broken ice froze directly on their bodies, and the outside of their shoes was also covered with ice particles. "Look at these gloves. I wear one layer on the inside and a layer of velvet on the outside. But the first layer of gloves doesn't work at all, and my hands will be completely frozen after a while." Wang Zhongyang said.

Bridge and tunnel workers are conducting ice drilling measurements. Photo by Li Xinghai

  The inspection team is busiest during the Spring Festival travel period. In addition to completing the bridge survey, it is also responsible for shaving ice around the 18 bridge piers to relieve the pressure of ice hitting the bridge piers during the spring melt and ensure the safety of the bridge.

  "We need to work for about 4 hours each time. For this bridge, we usually have to measure more than 500 points, and we can only measure more than 20 points at most each time. These tasks must be completed before the end of the Spring Festival travel season. , the task is quite arduous for us." Jiang Chuanyang said.

  "Every time I see the China-Europe train passing by the Tongjiang Bridge that we are responsible for maintaining, I feel full of pride. We are the representatives of the easternmost group that sticks to the motherland." Wang Zhongyang said. (over)