The first ferry ship to serve China's longest ferry railway across the Bohai Straits took water in Tianjin on Tuesday morning and is to be officially delivered this July.
The ship, named "China Railway Bohai No.1", is the first roll-roll ship in China to use a power engine, and also the first of its kind in the world using the latest third-generation power engine system.
"The ship will be a milestone in China's ferry ship manufacturing industry," said Gao Xuehu, head of the Tianjin Xingang shipbuilding plant, the ship's builder.
According to Gao, the ferry, designed to withstand gale-force winds, is 182.6 meters long, 24.8 meters wide and weighs 22,700 dead weight tonnages (dwt).
Gao said the new ship is designed to accommodate trains, motor vehicles, as well as passengers. In a single journey, the ship can carry a 4,000-tons freight train with 50 carriages, or 50 units of 20-ton vehicles, or 25-units cars, or 480 passengers.
Starting from Yantai and ending at Dalian, the ferry railway links two of China's peninsular economic powerhouses, Liaoning and Shandong provinces, and is an important part of China's coastal railway corridor.
Currently, the overland railway journey covers 1,801 kilometers from Yantai to Dalian. The water route shortens this distance to 159.8 kilometers, sources with the Ministry of Railways said.
The ministry said two such ships will be built for ferry service on the waterway. Construction of the first ferry ship started on December 18, 2004 in Tianjin.
And construction of the second ship started in July 2005, and will be delivered before December 26 this year.
(Xinhua News Agency, Dalian Evening News January 11, 2006)