Le­vi­tat­ing and hurtling to­ward a break­through

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONG NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Con­ceiv­ably, re­gional flight ser­vices in China may face tough com­pe­ti­tion in the next decade from China Rail­way Rolling Stock Corp Ltd, if the coun­try’s rail­way ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer over­comes all the tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers and pushes mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion or ma­glev trains (op­er­a­tional speed: 600 km per hour) into the mar­ket.

In Oc­to­ber, the Min­istry of Science and Tech­nol­ogy de­cided to trans­fer cer­tain key re­search pro­jects to se­lect State-owned en­ter­prises, in­clud­ing CRRC. A high-speed test line for a ma­glev train, with a length of no less than 5 kilo­me­ters, is ex­pected to be com­pleted in Qing­dao of East China’s Shan­dong prov­ince by 2021.

“Even though our Euro­pean ri­vals pre­vi­ously were try­ing to hold back our mar­ket ex­pan­sion in de­vel­op­ing wheel tech­nol­ogy-based high­speed trains, they have failed and gen­er­ally there is no Euro­pean coun­try ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing with China in this field,” said Jia Limin, head of China’s high-speed rail in­no­va­tion pro­gram.

How­ever, Ja­pan re­mains a strong com­peti­tor not only in the ar­eas of bul­let train op­er­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment but high-speed ma­glev train tech­nolo­gies. The coun­try plans to put its 500 km/h ma­glev trains with cryo­genic su­per­con­duct­ing tech­nolo­gies into op­er­a­tion by 2027.

“There­fore, we must make a break­through as soon as pos­si­ble to de­velop ma­glev trains that can run at speeds be­tween 200 km/h and 600 km/h, to en­sure we’ ll have ad­e­quate mar­ket share in both do­mes­tic and global mar­kets in the future,” said Jia.

The project will be led by CRRC Qing­dao Si­fang Co Ltd, one of the three sub­sidiary bul­let-train mak­ers. In­vest­ment in these pro­jects, which in­clude build­ing of a re­search and de­vel­op­ment in­sti­tute, will reach 3.22 bil­lion yuan ($465 mil­lion). The gov­ern­ment will al­lo­cate 433 mil­lion yuan, with the re­main­der to be raised by CRRC.

The rail­way ma­jor will also start R&D of cross-bor­der high-speed trains that can run at 400 km/h and al­ter­nate be­tween dif­fer­ent track gauges, rang­ing from 60 cm to 1.676 me­ters.

Com­pared with other types of ur­ban rail trans­porta­tion, ma­glev trains are quiet and can achieve high speeds be­cause they don’t ac­tu­ally ride on rails with wheels but hover cen­time­ters above the track through the use of mag­nets, avoid­ing speed-re­duc­ing fric­tion, said Ren Jian, deputy di­rec­tor of CRRC’s tech­nol­ogy man­age­ment depart­ment.

The world’s first ma­glev line was launched in Shang- hai in 2002, con­nect­ing a metro sta­tion to Shang­hai Pudong In­ter­na­tional Air­port. With speeds of up to 430 km/h, its 30-km route takes less than eight min­utes to travel.

“Such trains will con­sume 10 per­cent less en­ergy than the coun­try’s 350 km/h bul­let trains cur­rently in use,” said Sun Fuquan, a re­searcher spe­cial­iz­ing in rail­way ve­hi­cles at the Chi­nese Academy of Science and Tech­nol­ogy for De­vel­op­ment.

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