China’s Next-gen Bullet Trains
Ever since China began building its first high-speed railway in 2004, the country’s high-speed rail construction has developed rapidly. In 2016, four major high-speed rail lines opened, expanding the total length of China’s high-speed rail network to more than 22,000 kilometers, top in the world. In April of this year, high-speed rails were rated the best of the “four innovations of modern China” that are the most appealing to youths from 20 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. High-speed rails are becoming a “Chinese specialty” that many foreign youngsters want to sample.
At 11:05 a.m. on June 26, 2017, two newly developed electric multiple unit (EMU) trains, named Fuxing (literally, “rejuvenation”), were officially launched on the Beijing-shanghai highspeed railway.
The Fuxing train, to which China possesses complete intellectual property rights, is a new model following the CRH model.
Lu Dongfu, general manager of China Railway Corp, believes that “the launch of the new bullet trains means China’s high-speed trains make a major leap forward in the country’s push to become a global tech power.”
How Great Are the New Bullet Trains?
First, the EMU trains received a speed-boost. The number “400” in the official names of the two Fuxing models, CR400AF and CR400BF, indicates that the trains typically travel at speeds of around 350 kilometers per hour but can reach 400 kilometers per hour, an increase of 150 and 50 kilometers per hour compared to the CRH model.
Second, the EMU trains widely adopted Chinese standards. They are built according to a number of technical standards including unified Chinese standards, railway industry standards and requirements of the China Railway Corp, with Chinese standards covering 84 percent of all requirements. Independent development of the new technologies in the trains, including overall design and every key component, has left China in control of the intellectual property rights. And every track leads to greater connectivity.
Third, the new trains provide better security. To guarantee safety, the Fuxing model brings its own “doctor” along on every trip. The new model has a powerful safety monitoring system with more than 2,500 sensors. The sensors monitor the state of the entire train, and if something ever goes wrong, the monitoring system sounds an alarm and can even take automatic measures such as reducing speed or even stopping the train. An energy absorption device to diminish collisions is placed at the joint of the locomotive and carriages of the train. The device can passively protect the train completely in the event of a low-speed collision.
The Fuxing model also adopts a new streamlined body design with lower air resistance that reduces power consumption. The height of the train was increased to give more room to passengers and the air conditioning system was enhanced to adapt to various exterior air pressure conditions and reduce ear discomfort when trains pass through tunnels or pass each other, making the trip more comfortable for passengers.
Development of China’s High-speed Rails
Before China’s high-speed trains were launched, the speed of the Chinese railway system had increased five times. The launch of high-speed bullet trains was considered the sixth speed boost. He Huawu, chief engineer of the China Railway Signal & Com-
munication Corp, oversaw the sixth speed improvement. He organized research to tackle key technological problems and optimize system integration, which provided strong technical support for the construction of the high-speed rail system. He witnessed the entire development process of Chinese high-speed trains.
According to He, the development of China’s high-speed trains roughly fell into three stages. The first stage began in 2006, when foreign technologies from Japan, France, Germany and other countries were introduced to China, which were then absorbed and renovated. In 2008, the first CRH train, which traveled at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour, took its first test run. The second stage started in 2009, when China designed and manufactured the second-generation high-speed trains with independent research and development. The new CRH model set a record of 486.1 kilometers per hour in a trial run along the Beijing-shanghai line in 2010. The third stage is the launch of the EMU trains. In July 2017, two Chinese-designed bullet trains passed in opposite directions at a world-record speed of 420 kilometers per hour during a test run.
According to the Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan issued on July 22, 2016, China’s high-speed railway network will reach 38,000 kilometers by 2025, linking 240 medium-sized and large cities in the country.
As The New York Times commented, “China’s ambitious rail rollout is helping integrate the economy of this sprawling, populous nation, and is bringing to China the very real economic benefits.”
June 26, 2017: Fuxing train G123 ready to depart from Beijing South Railway Station. The model is one of the most cutting- edge bullet trains in the world, and China holds its intellectual property rights.
June 26, 2017: A Fuxing train sets off from Beijing South Railway Station, the north terminal of the Beijing-shanghai High-speed Railway.