(CNN) — Beijing’s oldest train station has gotten a 21st-century makeover.
Fengtai Railway Station, which was built in 1895, has completed a multiyear renovation process and reopened on June 20, 2022.
The reimagined station — billed as the largest in Asia — has 32 train platforms, plus departure lounges, restaurants and other amenities spread across 400,000 square meters. At its peak, the station will be able to host 14,000 passengers per hour on a mix of bullet and regular trains as well as subway lines.
“The design of the double-layer yards-with bullet trains running atop and regular-speed trains running on the ground-saves a lot of space,” Ma Hui, chief engineer of the construction project, told state-run newspaper China Daily.
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“The unique design has changed the layout of the traditional railway station. It is an innovative way to arrange the functions of a railway station,” he added.
One of those unique features is a photovoltaic power station on the roof, which generates power for the building.
The original Fengtai Station closed in 2010.
Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua/ZUMA Press
Though China remains closed to most international tourists, Fengtai is already serving train routes from the capital to Shanghai, Guangzhou and other hubs. A link from Fengtai to Hong Kong’s Kowloon station is on deck for when the city reopens its border with the mainland.
Making train travel faster is a massive undertaking in the world’s most populous country.
As of 2020, 75% of Chinese cities with a population of 500,000 or more had a high-speed rail ink. The goal is to have 70,000 kilometers (44,000 miles) of high speed rail covering the country by the year 2035.
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And it’s not just about connecting China’s regions.
As a core element of the country’s Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative, rail is a way for China to establish closer relationships with other nearby nations.
A 620-mile rail link connecting Laos with China’s southern Yunnan province opened in October 2021.
China is also keen to set records with its infrastructure projects. The world’s deepest rail station, Badaling Great Wall Station on the outskirts of the Chinese capital, debuted ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Ben Jones contributed reporting.