High-speed trains race like win­ners in global mar­kets

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - 2016-17: REVIEW & PREVIEW - Zhong Nan RE­PORTER’S LOG

Ihave a dis­tinct mem­ory of my days at Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Rail­way Sta­tion in Kent, south­east Eng­land, more than a decade ago. Some af­ter­noons, I used to watch the un­der­sea train bound for Paris speed by. I would mar­vel at the sleek high-speed Eurostar train, which show­cased the then sta­teof-the-art rail tech­nol­ogy.

Tech­nol­ogy has since evolved pretty fast. There’s been a ge­o­graphic shift too in the bal­ance of rail­way tech­nol­ogy power.

Now, high-speed trains — some call them bul­let trains — are ubiq­ui­tous in China. High­speed rail­roads spanned 19,210 km at 2015-end, ac­count­ing for more than 58 per­cent of the world’s to­tal. Some 1 bil­lion pas­sen­gers trav­eled by high-speed trains in China last year, more than half of the world’s to­tal.

China is mov­ing on to in­vest in mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion or ma­glev trains next. Ma­glev trains in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, can reach op­er­a­tional speeds of up to 600 km per hour.

Over the last few years, China has de­mon­strated its com­pet­i­tive edge in high-speed rail tech­nol­ogy. Its bul­let trains run in var­i­ous cli­mates, rang­ing from trop­i­cal to alpine con­di­tions, as well as across var­i­ous ge­o­log­i­cal and ge­o­mor­phic con­di­tions. And, in the global con­text, China-made high-speed trains sport bar­gain price-tags.

For China, it is a good time to be a bul­let train man­u­fac­turer in the world mar­ket.

There is surg­ing de­mand for such trains, ad­vanced rail­way in­fra­struc­ture, pas­sen­ger ser­vices and re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity in many coun­tries, es­pe­cially those cov­ered by the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

It is be­lieved in­vest­ment in state-of-the-art rail­way net­works would also cre­ate jobs, boost com­merce and have a knock-on ef­fect on the econ­omy.

Against this background, China Rail­way Rolling Stock Corp, the coun­try’s largest train-maker, is ea­ger to en­hance the coun­try’s abil­ity to ship high-end rail prod­ucts.

It has plans to build bul­let trains and pro­vide re­lated ser­vices in both de­vel­op­ing and de­vel­oped mar­kets, in­clud­ing Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States. In do­ing so, it will com­pete with es­tab­lished ri­vals from Ger­many, Ja­pan and Canada.

In­ter­na­tional bid­ders had to mea­sure up to new stan­dards for In­done­sia’s Jakarta-Ban­dung Rail­way pro­ject last year. China was awarded the con­tract, beat­ing Ja­pan’s bid. What stood out was China’s of­fer to con­struct the line with­out any of­fi­cial loan guar­an­tee nor fund­ing from In­done­sia. China’s bid also as­sured the pro­ject would be op­er­a­tional­ized by 2019, four years ahead of 2023 that Ja­pan had promised.

Ex­ports of high-speed as well as reg­u­lar rolling stock to over 120 coun­tries and re­gions demon­strate China’s com­mit­ment to help im­prove in­fra­struc­ture the world over, us­ing its high-tech but af­ford­able tech­nolo­gies, rich ex­pe­ri­ence and strong fi­nanc­ing abil­ity.

The Chi­nese ap­proach is marked by an out­look for mu­tual ben­e­fit and shared pros­per­ity. Help­ing other coun­tries de­velop their in­fra­struc­ture would also keep China’s rail sec­tor in good stead. There is ev­i­dence to this ef­fect. Ex­ports of high-speed rolling stock, sig­nal­ing sys­tems and other equip­ment have gen­er­ated good re­turns so far.

A case can be made for China to ap­ply its ex­pe­ri­ence in rail­ways to other prod­ucts, tech­nolo­gies, mar­kets and in­vest­ments.

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