Singing Metro workers brave the cold

Temperatures plunge to minus 5 degrees Celsius as turnouts are installed at Xinzhuang station.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Workers push the old tracks and replace it with new ones at Xinzhuang station on Saturday night.

A set of turnouts is being installed at Xinzhuang station on Metro Line 1 to enhance the turn-back capacity and reinforce the connection between Lines 1 and 5 so both can operate more efficiently.

A turnout is a track switch that allows trains to change between different tracks.

Construction began on January 7 with engineers and workers having only around four hours every night after the Metro stopped operating. The hardest part of the project was removing the existing tracks to replace them with the new equipment.

On Saturday night, 250 workers removed the old tracks with the help of an electric lifting jack. The temperature that night was minus 5 Celsius degrees, but they kept their spirits up by singing as they carried the 10-ton steel track on their shoulders.

“The turnouts are a junction of four tracks forming a cross,” said Zhang Baoguang, general director of the project. “It would take us four nights to lay them down.”

Zhang said failure was not an option as the Metro had to continue to operate the next day. “We had about four hours to replace the tracks and do all the tests to make sure the operation does not go wrong."

The Metro operator said work will be finished before the end of the week.

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