Full-Lifecycle BIM, Beijing-Zhangjiakou HSR: Bentley

Written by Steve Cockrell, Industry Marketing Director, Rail, Bentley Systems, for Railway Age
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The Beijing-Zhangjiakou HSR project will be used as a benchmark for full-lifecycle BIM within China’s rail industry. Bentley Systems illustration.

As part of China’s national railway construction initiative, and in preparation for Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway was constructed in the Hebei province of northeast China. It opened for service on Dec. 30, 2019.

The $749 million, 108-mile-long railway has a design speed of 217 mph (350 kph), the norm in China. The world’s first automated HSR line (semi-automatic GOA2, with train drivers in a supervisory capacity), it reduces travel time between the two city venues for the Olympic Games from 3 hours 7 minutes to 47 minutes. With 71 subgrade sections, 64 bridges, 10 tunnels and 10 stations, including the world’s deepest and China’s largest underground station at Badaling, the new high-speed line is the first in China’s rail industry to adopt a full-lifecycle BIM (Building Information Modeling) strategy for all disciplines involved in the project.

China Railway Engineering Consulting Group (CEC) was responsible for preliminary and detailed design and construction consulting. Setting a goal to establish a benchmark in the railway industry, the company committed to using innovative technology methods to optimize design and construction and achieve full-lifecycle BIM on the world-class HSR project.

With 23 main engineering disciplines and 56 design sections, the team faced many challenges on this complex project. The project presented significant and changing environmental conditions in a high-altitude area amid surrounding cultural infrastructure that required complicated structural solutions. To optimize design, efficiently coordinate the project and implement effective 3D collaborative design and construction processes, CEC needed integrated digital design applications.

Establishing a Connected Data Environment

To facilitate coordinated design and engineering processes, CEC selected Bentley Systems technology to establish an open, Connected Data Environment (CDE). “We were facing big problems in collaboration, so we wanted to find an amazing platform that is easy to use, provides a uniform data storage format, and supports collaborative work,” said Zhongliang Zhang, director of BIM at CEC.

Based on ProjectWise and Bentley’s integrated design applications, the team created logical links between and within the different disciplines, providing real-time access to trusted information wherever and whenever required. CEC relied on ProjectWise as the common platform and implemented innovative BIM methodologies using MicroStation, OpenBuildings Designer and OpenRoads Designer to optimize information exchange. The integrated software solution allowed the team to create a component library to standardize design and dynamic modeling that could be centrally managed at all stages, in the same digital collaboration environment, and in accordance with the same standards.

Using Bentley’s CDE with a unified underlying data structure optimized exchange and integration of the various data types across the different engineering specialties involved, resulting in rapid model development. The connected digital solution significantly improved work efficiencies for the teams involved, with CEC using Bentley software to create a coordinated environment to enable multidiscipline design and collaboration, as well as to improve the quality of generated deliverables.

Advancing BIM for Optimal Design

CEC utilized Bentley applications, advancing 3D BIM capabilities in a CDE for coordinated design solutions to overcome the numerous site constraints. Importing high-speed rail specifications into OpenRoads assisted designers in determining industry-compliant design elements and establishing a standard basis for design. Bentley’s diversified modeling capabilities and data representation optimized geological design mapping and developed standardized structural components for the bridge and track. Given the architectural complexities of Qinghe Station and the excavation difficulties of the Badaling Station and tunnel, CEC worked with Bentley to maximize the digital potential of BIM workflows and to optimize design through automation, consistency and intelligent processes.

Qinghe Station

Qinghe Station

The largest station along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed rail line, Qinghe Station spans more than 138,000 square meters, with simple and powerful curves and supporting structures that highlight Beijing’s ancient charm and modern appearance. The complicated architecture required geological analysis, construction of a foundation pit, and a comprehensive piping system. The building adopted a combination of A-shaped, Y-shaped, and straight columns to support the 160-meter, long-span steel structure and cantilevered roof. Using Bentley’s integrated BIM applications, CEC carried out multispecialty design, visualizing all the model components and integrating them into a comprehensive 3D model. The team conducted collision detection to resolve any issues prior to construction, and the innovative design generated with Bentley technology allowed the team to reduce noise interference associated with surrounding buildings.

Badaling Station and Tunnel

The Badaling Station and Tunnel traverse the scenic and cultural area that includes a section of the Great Wall of China. The construction area and depth of the station are record-breaking, spanning 36,000 square meters and located 102 meters below ground. The tunnel to access the station is 12 kilometers long, making it the longest tunnel along the rail line. Both structures required difficult excavation to avoid cutting through the Great Wall and to accommodate the poor geological conditions of the area, which is vulnerable to flooding. The team used Bentley’s BIM technology to facilitate multidiscipline modeling and automate manual tasks. Using MicroStation, OpenBuildings Designer, and OpenRoads, the different design specialties modeled the underground facilities and excavation stands at both ends of the station. Bentley’s flexible and interoperable applications supported the stations’ design service life of 100 years, allowing the team to verify comparability and comprehensiveness of the circular rescue corridor, which is capable of rapid and dead-end rescue in emergencies.

The world’s deepest and Asia’s largest underground high-speed railway station is located beneath the Great Wall at the Badaling Station and Tunnel in Beijing.

“In general, applying Bentley BIM modeling provides a simple and efficient process and helped us take the first step in BIM design,” Zhongliang said. Through automated, standardized and intelligent collaborative design methods, CEC went beyond the first step, advancing the capabilities of BIM to deliver innovative, coordinated railway design and lay the foundation for construction operation and maintenance, for full-lifecycle BIM processes.

Collaborative Technology Solution Delivers Benefits

To realize multidiscipline design, CEC used Bentley’s integrated technology to develop 3D collaborative BIM processes, standardizing data structure for modeling and design purposes, and streamlining workflows. The company used the software to perform altitude calculations and 3D model integration in accordance with China Railway Engineering standards. The parametric modeling features facilitated efficient change management and automated 3D model generation, optimizing design while shortening modeling times. Working in a CDE enabled real-time unobstructed access to and exchange of project information. The common file format facilitated collaboration across all disciplines and reduced data transfer costs and risk throughout all phases of design.

 More specifically, CEC resolved design and layout issues with pipelines and underground structures and reduced geological modeling time by six months, compared to traditional methods. Using Bentley’s applications for 3D multidiscipline design coordination and modeling resulted in optimized land use during construction and reduced environmental impact while still meeting the railway’s technical requirements. The collision detection features identified design errors prior to construction, which enhanced design accuracy, reduced rework, improved efficiencies and eliminated costs associated with on-site construction changes. Overall, Bentley’s collaborative digital solution saved three months in design time and close to half a million dollars.

A Digital Benchmark for the Future

Based on Bentley’s CDE, CEC is using the Beijing-Zhangjiakou HSR project as an opportunity to verify and approve current BIM standards and set a benchmark for full-lifecycle BIM within China’s rail industry. By exploring 3D design across multiple professions and verifying the feasibility of Bentley’s BIM design capabilities for all railway design specialties, the CEC team reduced the environmental impact of the project and improved the efficiency and quality of the design and deliverables.

Advancing the application of BIM technology in the planning and design phases of railway initiatives, CEC relied on the flexibility and interoperability of Bentley software to facilitate coordinated modeling of the complex tunnels and stations and lay the foundation for BIM processes during construction, operations, and maintenance. “The Beijing-Zhangjiakou intercity railway is of great guiding significance to other BIM projects in the railway industry’s future,” Zhongliang said. “By using Bentley’s technology, China Railway Engineering Consulting Group is working toward realizing intelligent construction, equipment and operation, and is the start of a new era for the world’s intelligent railway.”

Project Summary

Organization: China Railway Engineering Consulting Group, Co., Ltd.

Solution: Rail and Transit

Location: Beijing, China

Project Objectives:

  • To implement 3D BIM to ensure coordinated design and data consistency to deliver the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway.
  • To establish an open, connected data environment, save time, improve work efficiencies and reduce construction costs.
  • To develop digital engineering standards setting an industry benchmark for BIM.

Project Playbook: LumenRT, MicroStation®, OpenBuildings™ Designer, Bentley® OpenRail™ Connected Data Environment®, OpenRoads, ProjectWise®

Fast Facts:

  • Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway is an automated high-speed railway with a design speed of 350 kph (217 mph), the norm in China. It is the world’s first automated HSR line.
  • CEC established an open, connected data environment, setting an industry benchmark for full-lifecycle BIM by leveraging ProjectWise and Bentley’s integrated BIM applications.


  • Working on a coordinated platform unified data, streamlined workflows, and reduced rework to save $420,000.
  • The flexibility of Bentley software facilitated the development of a standard component library to optimize and accelerate multidiscipline modeling.
  • Bentley’s collaborative 3D BIM solution improved efficiencies and reduced overall design time by three months.

Steve Cockerell is Director Industry Marketing – Road and Rail at Bentley Systems. He joined Bentley Systems in 2002 and works as part of a team delivering knowledge and expertise to its users across the transportation industry. In his role, Cockerell leverages his 25 years of industry experience in helping develop and maintain Bentley’s position as the leading supplier of software and services to the world’s infrastructure community. Cockerell began by studying civil engineering, before working as a highway designer for local government in the U.K. Joining MOSS Systems in 1990 as an application engineer, he focused on communicating the benefits delivered by CAD-based design applications for highways, rail and land development projects. Following Infrasoft’s acquisition of MOSS Systems, Cockerell served as Channel Marketing Director, helping to develop and launch Arenium, an engineering collaboration platform that enabled multi-user access to 3D MX design models, and paved the way for technology that supports BIM processes and standards now demanded by governments around the world. Most recently, Cockerell was involved in the launch of Bentley’s OpenRail solution, which through its holistic approach from planning to performance, incorporates systems engineering methodologies to provide compliance and assurance over time, and leverages digital context, components and workflows, through a Connected Data Environment.

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