Hankou–Yichang railway (simplified Chinese: 汉宜铁路; traditional Chinese: 漢宜鐵路), or Hanyi railway, is a 291-kilometre (181 mi) long high-speed railway between Hankou (a borough of Wuhan) and Yichang in Hubei province. The railway forms a section of the Huhanrong passenger-dedicated line from Shanghai to Wuhan to Chengdu. The Hanyi Railway was completed in spring 2012 and started commercial operations on July 1, 2012. Adjacent high-speed rail sections, the Hefei–Wuhan high-speed railway to the east and the Yichang−Wanzhou railway to the west, opened respectively in April 2009 and December 2010.
Unlike most other high-speed railways in China which generally follow the route of pre-existing railway lines, the Hanyi railway takes a new, more direct, route between Wuhan and Yichang, bringing rail service for the first time to cities along the Yangtze River in central Hubei such as Hanchuan, Xiantao, and Qianjiang. Jingzhou, previously only served by a branch rail line to Jingmen to the north, now enjoys frequent through-train service to Wuhan and Yichang.
According to a news item from the Wuhan City Government dated July 10, 2008, the plans for the railways were finalized at the time, and the construction was to begin shortly. According to the plans, the construction should have been completed by the end of 2011, however, this deadline was not met. A more recent schedule (confirmed in early May 2012 by Hubei provincial authorities) is for the railway to open in May 2012. It is constructed by the China Railway 12th Bureau Group Co.
On March 1 it was reported that softer earth had been used in the foundation of the railway. Later the director of Hubei railway construction office told a section of the railway had sunk more than the allowed tolerance. On 9 March 2012 it was reported that due to heavy rainfall a 300-meter section of rail collapsed in central Hubei Province.
According to the final plan, there are 8 stations on the line:
Even though Tianmen City is west of Xiantao City, Xiantao West Station (located north of Xiantao's Sanfutan Town) is located west on Tianmen South Station (located near Tianmen's Duoxiang Town). In fact, Xiantao West is the closest station to downtown Tianmen, and Tianmen South is the closest station to downtown Xiantao. This geographical oddity has resulted because of the way the border between the two county-level cities (which runs mostly along the Hanshui River) is located relative to the new railway's route.
Tianmen South Station is the station that early plans called "Xiantao Station".
As of 2012, the Hanyi Railway's trains have never served the Yichang railway station in downtown Yichang. In 2012, that station was closed for renovations; it is expected that after the renovation project is completed, the station will also receive EMU (i.e., D-series) trains, presumably extending the route of Wuhan-Yichang trains by one more station, much closer to downtown Yichang.
As of July 2012, the Hanyi railway is primarily used by frequent high-speed D-series trains circulating between Yichang East and Wuhan's three major rail stations (Hankou, Wuchang, and Wuhan). Some of them continue to the east (to Nanjing and Shanghai Hongqiao), or to the southeast (to Nanchang, over the Wuhan–Jiujiang Railway). A few "conventional" (K, T, Z-series) trains use the line as well.