China puts the world on a fast track

China’s drive to spread high-speed rail cul­ture cre­ates win-win chances

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

Al­though the num­ber of trav­el­ers in China is much higher than those in many coun­tries com­bined, do­mes­tic and foreign air­lines are not tak­ing it easy as high-speed rail­ways con­tinue to ex­pand. With train speeds in­creas­ing all the time, the gap be­tween jour­ney time by air and by rail is nar­row­ing.

Ea­ger to keep tech­no­log­i­cal pace with its Ja­panese ri­vals, China Rail­way Rolling Stock Corp, the coun­try’s rail­way ve­hi­cle and equip­ment ex­porter, will in­vest in mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion or ma­glev trains next.

Ma­glev trains in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, can reach speeds of up to 600 km per hour al­ready.

China is also working on next-gen­er­a­tion bul­let trains with a max­i­mum speed of 400 km per hour. They will be ready by 2020 for markets linked to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

“China’s com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages are sig­nif­i­cant with the coun­try’s high-speed rail tech­nol­ogy hav­ing proven that it can stand the test of var­i­ous cli­mates rang­ing from alpine to trop­i­cal con­di­tions,” said Zheng Changhong, for­mer deputy chair­man of CRRC.

High-speed trains — some call them bul­let trains — are ubiq­ui­tous in China. The coun­try’s high-speed rail­roads spanned 22,340 km by the end of last year, ac­count­ing for more than 60 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 Rail­way Corp, the coun­try’s rail­way op­er­a­tor, and CRRC have al­ready mas­tered the tech­nol­ogy for pro­duc­ing elec­tric mul­ti­ple-unit trains with speeds be­tween 200 km per hour and 250 km per hour.

The coun­try also set up a tech­nol­ogy plat­form for pro­duc­ing bul­let trains that can run at speeds of 350 km per hour. The plat­form de­vel­oped the CRH380, a new gen­er­a­tion of high-speed rolling stock, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Rail­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

CRRC has so far par­tic­i­pated in more than 10 high-speed and reg­u­lar rail­way projects in the global markets, in­clud­ing the high-speed rail­road link­ing Ankara and Is­tan­bul in Turkey, the Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail­way in Rus­sia, the China-Thai­land rail­way and the Hun­gary-Ser­bia rail­way.

CRRC and other Chi­nese rail­way in­fra­struc­ture and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing CRC and China Rail­way Sig­nal and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Co, are cur­rently build­ing the Jakarta-Ban­dung high­speed rail­way in In­done­sia.

When com­plete, it will con­nect Ban­dung with Surabaya, In­done­sia’s sec­ond largest city, which is 570 km away and has a pop­u­la­tion of 3.6 mil­lion.

With a speed of 350 km per hour, the rail­way is ex­pected to cut travel time be­tween Jakarta and Ban­dung from the cur­rent three hours to 36 min­utes.

Wang Zhile, a se­nior re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion in Bei­jing, said, “In the long term, China and the ASEAN economies will count on en­hanced re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially in rail trans­porta­tion, to stim­u­late peo­pleto-peo­ple ex­changes, trade and at­tract in­vest­ment while im­prov­ing re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion.”

Wang said Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land, In­done­sia and Malaysia have plans to build high-speed rail links, which could fur­ther fuel hopes that South­east Asia would one day have a uni­fied rail sys­tem sim­i­lar to the one in Europe.

“For China, it is an ap­pro­pri­ate time to be a bul­let train man­u­fac­turer in the world mar­ket,” said Yu Weip­ing, CRRC’s vice-pres­i­dent.

Yu said the com­pany is keen to con­trib­ute to a new high­speed rail cul­ture in the United States. High-speed trains trav­el­ing at speeds of more than 300 km per hour will help the US to change its sur­face trans­port sys­tems, which have long been dom­i­nated by au­to­mo­biles.

De­mand is surg­ing for such trains, ad­vanced rail­way in­fra­struc­ture, pas­sen­ger ser­vices and re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity in many coun­tries, es­pe­cially those re­lated to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

CRRC plans to build bul­let trains and pro­vide re­lated ser­vices in both de­vel­op­ing and de­vel­oped markets, in­clud­ing Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, the United King­dom and the US.

“Help­ing other coun­tries de­velop high-speed train net­works would also stand 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 de­cent re­turns so far,” said Feng Hao, a rail­way de­vel­op­ment re­searcher at the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

For China, it is an ap­pro­pri­ate time to be a bul­let train man­u­fac­turer in the world mar­ket.” Yu Weip­ing, vice-pres­i­dent of CRRC

CHENG ZI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Euro­pean pas­sen­gers proudly show off their high-speed rail­way tick­ets dur­ing a CRH train ride to Bei­jing from Tian­jin.

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