Chinese Engineers Once Moved a 30,000-Tonne Bus Terminal with Hundreds of Hydraulic Jacks

Chinese engineers once set a Guinness World Record After Rotating a 30,000-tonne bus terminal in Xiamen 288 meters by using hundreds of hydraulic jacks and rolling tracks.

The Houxi Long Distance Bus Station is situated in the Jimei District of Xiamen, China’s Fujian Province.  Four years ago, local authorities decided to move one of its terminals from one street to another in order to make room for a new high-speed railway project. After weighing their options, engineers decided that the best solution was to rotate the gigantic building at a 90-degree angle, using one of its narrow sides as the center point. The far side of the terminals needed to slide along the ground for about 288 meters, which is hard to do with a structure that weighs 30,000 tons, or as much as 170 Boeing 737 passenger planes.

To pull off this record-worthy feat, Chinese engineers devised a system that relied on properly oriented rolling tracks onto which the bus terminal would slide, and no less than 532 powerful hydraulic jacks capable of lifting the structure from the ground and sustaining it during the move. At the time, local newspaper the Haixi Morning Post wrote that the team used special jacks that moved forward automatically, bringing the terminal with them.

To minimize the risk of human errors, engineers divided the hundreds of jacks into two groups, each controlled by computers. The two groups worked alternatively, with one lifting the building and ‘stepping’ forward before the second group repeated the exact same motion. This produced a visual illusion that made it seem like the bus terminal was walking.


The hydraulic jacks worked non-stop, moving the 30,000-tonne bus terminal by about 20 meters per day. It took 40 days to move the structure into its new position, a new Guinness Record. A time-lapse video of the move has been doing the rounds on social media for the last 4 years, and for good reason, it’s impressive!

Interestingly, constructing the Houxi Long Distance bus terminal in 2015 reportedly cost around $39 million, while the operation to move it into its new position cost a whopping $7.5 million.


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