POWERCHINA Huadong Engineering Uses BIM to Provide the Foundation of a Digital Twin and Transform the Ancient Chinese City of Shaoxing

  • POWERCHINA Huadong Engineering Corporation Limited (HDEC) is responsible for the digital engineering of Shaoxing’s new Urban Rail Transit Line 1 
  • Construction of the 34.1-kilometer line in the Zhejiang province is planned to finish in June 2021, with railway operations scheduled to commence in 2022 
  • Real-time analysis and processing of data from multiple sources in a connected data environment is helping HDEC improve decision-making across its entire business 
  • Digital workflows are enabling HDEC to increase productivity, improve quality, mitigate risk, and lay the foundations of a digital twin of the railway for use in operations and maintenance 

The ancient city Shaoxing, situated south of the Yangtze River in the Zhejiang province of China, has a history of more than 2,500 years. Famed for its abundant rainfall and with numerous lakes and rivers covering a 21-square-kilometer area, the city has earned the reputation of being the “Oriental Venice.” 

Shaoxing’s new Urban Rail Transit Line 1 is the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history, and is of great significance due to its part in linking the cities of Hangzhou and its Metro Line 5, with Shaoxing via the Hangzhou-Shaoxing Intercity Railway. 

Shaoxing Rail Transit Group entrusted Huadong Engineering Corporation Limited (HDEC) to digitally engineer the entire Line 1—including project management, overall consultation, survey, design, construction, and handover to operations and maintenance—at approximately CNY 24 billion. 

However, HDEC required software that would help streamline this complex construction project. Construction of the 34.1-kilometer line is mainly underground and includes 24 stations, 25 sections, one depot, a parking lot, two main substations, and a control center. Construction commenced in 2017 and is expected to take 54 months to complete, with operations estimated to start in 2022. 


HDEC needed to overcome the issues of limited underground space and complex environmental conditions, numerous technical interfaces between the multiple disciplines involved during design and construction, and governmental cooperation between departments and units from the cities of Hangzhou and Shaoxing.  

They faced complex hydrogeological conditions along the line’s corridor, where soft soil is relatively thick, meaning that they had to pay particular attention to the safety of foundation pits, long-term settlement, and water leakage during design and construction. 

They also needed software to help overcome significant project planning and traffic organization challenges. The existing infrastructure conditions were complex because the railway passes through Shaoxing’s old town, featuring narrow roads with large traffic flows, river courses, 26 bridges, two railways, and cultural and historical protection zones. 

Due to Shaoxing Rail Transit Line 1’s dual-function of serving commuter passengers within the city and connecting with the city of Hangzhou via the Hangzhou-Shaoxing inter-city line, technology standards and interface protocols—such as vehicle selection, operation organization, power supply division, communication networks, and signal systems—needed to cover the entire line. 


Facing tight deadlines and a high level of complexity on the project, HDEC realized that it was critical for them to consider ways of improving both the efficiency and quality of design, construction, commissioning, and handover of the rail line to operations. 

They knew that their previous, traditional IT consulting processes would not be enough. They needed to adopt advanced digital workflows, and a digital twins approach, applying Bentley’s open and collaborative design applications plus iTwin technology on the project. 

At the outset, HDEC leveraged aerial photography within ContextCapture to create a 3D reality mesh that truly reflected the existing conditions of the city’s landscape, architecture, and road network. 

They developed their own 3D geology software called GeoStation® based on Bentley technology, using it along with the subsurface utility engineering functionality within OpenRoads to create an integrated BIM model of the railway’s route. They were able to leverage the insight that they gained for many tasks, including the complex design and engineering of subway crossings, as well as modeling of existing sub-surface pipelines. 

Where the railway line passes through or is adjacent to key buildings and structures, HDEC used Bentley’s iModel technology to integrate BIM models created by each of the many different disciplines involved, often including data generated by other non-Bentley software. 

During construction, Bentley’s iTwin technology enabled them to consume dynamic and static data in their digital construction management platform. Enabling each participating unit to contribute to and collaborate on a unified 3D view meant that HDEC could improve many construction management activities, including component-level project schedule management, quality management, safety management, and cost management. 

“To improve the information and digital management for this project, we deployed Bentley’s 3D design, engineering, and collaboration platform,” said Yexing Zhang, executive general manager, Zhejiang Huadong Engineering Digital Technology Co., Ltd., POWERCHINA Huadong Engineering Corporation Limited. “This innovative approach, which included the use of Bentley’s open applications, a connected data environment, and iTwin technology, meant that we had greater control of all elements within the project, and is helping ensure that our high-quality design transfers to a greater standard of construction and will ultimately result in improved levels of operation upon the railway’s completion.” 


Integrating survey, geology, and pipeline models, along with the 3D design of the railway planning models, reduced more than 800 hours of field data collection time in the areas of site survey, and geological and pipeline exploration, saving an investment of over CNY 3 million in resource hours. 

The ability to manage urban spatial data and planning data of the subway’s surroundings in a single unified environment helped them complete route exploration, station location, and civil construction planning in ways that reduced the impact of subway construction on the citizens of Shaoxing.  

Combining BIM data with automated monitoring technology means the impact of construction on the surrounding environment can be analyzed in real time. To date, the team has dealt with over 100 abnormal data events that previously could have negatively impacted construction or the cultural heritage of the city. 

The use of digital workflows during the design phase has resulted in the removal of many traditional processes altogether, enabling design productivity across disciplines to increase by a factor of two, as well as design review efficiency by a factor of three. 

Using digital workflows during drawing production, HDEC eliminated many low-level problems, and produced higher quality deliverables, and shortened the entire cycle by 20%, resulting in a saving of CNY 10 million. 

By implementing real-time analysis, processing of data from multiple sources—including BIM, GIS, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT)—and leveraging cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) in a connected data environment, HDEC is realizing the full value and potential of their data to support improved decision-making across their business. 

Moreover, with the seamless transfer of digital assets throughout the entire process, they are laying solid foundation for a digital twin of the railway to be used in the latter stages of project delivery, and onward into operations and maintenance. 

About Bentley Systems:

Bentley Systems (Nasdaq: BSY) is the infrastructure engineering software company. We provide innovative software to advance the world’s infrastructure – sustaining both the global economy and environment. Our industry-leading software solutions are used by professionals, and organizations of every size, for the design, construction, and operations of roads and bridges, rail and transit, water and wastewater, public works and utilities, buildings and campuses, and industrial facilities. Our offerings include MicroStation-based applications for modeling and simulation, ProjectWise for project delivery, AssetWise for asset and network performance, and the iTwin platform for infrastructure digital twins. Bentley Systems employs more than 4,000 colleagues and generates annual revenues of more than $700 million, in 172 countries.