(CNN) — Beijing’s oldest railway station has been transformed into a 21st century style.
Built in 1895, Fengtai Railway Station completed a years-long renovation process and reopened on June 20, 2022.
The renovated station, billed as Asia’s largest, has 32 train platforms, as well as waiting rooms, restaurants and other amenities spread over an area of 400,000 square meters. At its peak, the station will be able to handle 14,000 passengers per hour on bullet trains, conventional trains, and metro lines.
“The design of the two-tiered yards—with bullet trains running on top and regular speed trains running on the ground—saves a lot of space,” Ma Hui, chief engineer of the construction project, told the state-run China Daily newspaper.
“The unique design has changed the layout of a traditional train station. This is an innovative way to organize the functions of a railway station,” he added.
One such unique feature is the rooftop photovoltaic power plant that generates electricity for the building.
The original Fengtai Station closed in 2010.
Zhang Chenlin/Xinhua/ZUMA Press
Although China remains closed to most foreign tourists, Fengtai already operates train routes from the capital to Shanghai, Guangzhou and other transport hubs. A link from Fengtai to Hong Kong’s Kowloon Station is on deck when the city reopens its border with the mainland.
Speeding up trains is a massive challenge in the world’s most populous country.
As of 2020, 75% of Chinese cities with a population of 500,000 or more had high-speed rail. The goal is to have 70,000 kilometers (44,000 miles) of high-speed rail covering the country by 2035.
And it’s not just about connecting the regions of China.
As a core element of the country’s One Belt, One Road global infrastructure initiative, the railway allows China to establish closer relations with other neighboring countries.
Ben Jones contributed reporting.