China didn’t build a new railway station in nine hours

Published: 15th Jun 2018

In brief

Claim

The Chinese have built a railway station in nine hours.

Conclusion

This isn’t quite right. The nine-hour construction project in Longyan was to upgrade an existing station by adding a new section of track connecting existing lines, not to build an entire new station.

“The Chinese… were able to build a whole new station in this space of nine hours by flooding it with thousands of workers.”

Isabel Oakeshott, 14 June 2018

A video of an overnight construction project at a railway station in Longyan, in southeastern China’s Fujian Province, went viral in January 2018 (it was originally produced by Chinese news video site Pear Video).

Some outlets reported it as showing an entire new railway station being constructed in the space of nine hours, using around 1,500 workers, 23 excavators and seven trains. (A tweet from entrepreneur Elon Musk may have helped this version spread.)

But according to both the Chinese captions on the video itself and other Chinese media reports, while it’s accurate that the project was completed in that time (reportedly starting at 6:30 pm on Friday January 19 2018 and finishing by 3am the next morning) and involved that many workers, it wasn’t building a whole new station.

It was an upgrade to an existing station, laying a section of track to connect three current rail lines with a new high-speed line running between Longyan and Nanping. The reports say that the new line is expected to open fully by the end of 2018.

This article in Slate and this from Global Construction Review give a bit more background on how the nine hour turnaround was achieved—using pre-fabricated sections of line installed simultaneously by seven groups of workers operating in parallel.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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