About high-speed rail in the People's Republic of China

About high-speed rail in the People's Republic of China

High-speed rail in China (simplified Chinese: 中国高速铁路; traditional Chinese: 中國高速鐵路; pinyin: Zhōngguó gāosù tiělù) refers to any commercial train service in the People's Republic of China with an average speed of 200 km/h (120 mph) or higher. By that measure, China already has the world’s longest high-speed rail (HSR) network with about 7,431 km (4,617 mi)[1] of routes in service as of September 2010, including 1,995 km (1,240 mi) of rail lines with top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph).

China's high speed rail lines consists of upgraded conventional rail lines, newly-built high-speed passenger designated lines (PDLs), and the world’s first high-speed commercial magnetic levitation (maglev) line. The country is undergoing an HSR building boom. With generous funding from the Chinese government's economic stimulus program, 17,000 km (11,000 mi) of high-speed lines are now under construction. The entire HSR network will reach 13,000 km (8,100 mi) by 2012 and 16,000 km (9,900 mi) by 2020.

China is the first and only country to have commercial train service on conventional rail lines that can reach 350 km/h (217 mph). Notable examples of HSR in China include:

* The Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, a passenger-dedicated trunk line opened in 2009, that reduced the 968 km (601 mi) journey between the largest cities in central and southern China to 3 hours. Trains reach top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph) and average 310 km/h (190 mph) for the entire trip.
* The Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, an intercity express line opened in 2008, that shortened the 117 km (73 mi) commute between the two largest cities in North China to 30 minutes. Trains reach top speeds of 330 km/h (210 mph) and average 234 km/h (145 mph) for each trip.
* The Shanghai Maglev Train, an airport rail link service opened in 2004, that travels 30.5 km (19 mi.) in 7 minutes and 20 seconds, averaging 245.5 km (152.5 mph) and reaching top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph).

China’s initial high speed trains were imported or built under technology transfer agreements with foreign train-makers including Siemens, Alstom, Bombardier and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway, set to open in July 2011, will use the new CRH380B train made by Changchun Railway Vehicle and Tangshan Railway Vehicle, which can reach a top operational speed of 380 km/h.

State planning for China's high speed railway began in the early 1990s. The Ministry of Railways (MOR) submitted a proposal to build a high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai to the National People's Congress in December 1990.At the time, the existing Beijing-Shanghai railway was already reaching capacity, and the proposal was jointly studied by the Science & Technology Commission, State Planning Commission, State Economic & Trade Commission, and the MOR. In December 1994, the State Council commissioned a feasibility study for the line. Policy planners debated the necessity and economic viability of high-speed rail service. Supporters argued that high-speed rail would boost future economic growth. Opponents noted that high-speed rail in other countries were expensive and mostly unprofitable. Overcrowding on existing rail lines, they said, could be solved by expanding capacity through higher speed and frequency of service. In 1995, Premier Li Peng announced that preparatory work on the Beijing Shanghai HSR would begin in the 9th Five Year Plan (1996–2000), but construction was not scheduled until the first decade of the 21st century.

In 1993, commercial train service in China averaged only 48 km/h (30 mph) and was steadily losing market share to airline and highway travel on the country's expanding network of expressways. The MOR focused modernization efforts on increasing the service speed and capacity on existing lines through double-tracking, electrification, improvements in grade (through tunnels and bridges), reductions in turn curvature, and installation of continuous welded rail. Through five rounds of "speed-up" campaigns in April 1997, October 1998, October 2000, November 2001, and April 2004, passenger service on 7,700 km (4,785 mi.) of existing tracks was upgraded to reach sub-high speeds of 160 km/h (100 mph).

A notable example is the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway, which in December 1994 became the first line in China to offer sub-high speed service of 160 km/h using domestically-produced DF-class diesel locomotives. The line was electrified in 1998, and Swedish-made X 2000 trains increased service speed to 200 km/h. After the completion of a third track in 2000 and a fourth in 2007, the line became the first in China to run high-speed passenger and freight service on separate tracks.

The completion of the sixth and final round of the "speed up" campaigns in April 2007 brought HSR service to more existing lines: 846 km (525 mi.) capable of 250 km/h (155 mph) train service and 6,009 km (3,734 mi.) capable of 200 km/h (124 mph). Some 14,000 km of tracks could accommodate trains traveling at speeds up to 160 km/h (100 mph). In all, travel speed was increased on 22,000 km, or 29%, of the national rail network, and the average speed of a passenger train improved to 70 km/h. The introduction of more non-stop service between large cities also helped to reduce travel time. The non-stop express train from Beijing to Fuzhou shortened travel time from 33.5 to less than 20 hours.

In addition to track and scheduling improvements, the deployment of the CRH series trains raised travel speed. During the sixth railway speedup campaign, 52 CRH trainsets (CRH1, CRH2 and CRH5) were put into operation, service as 280 train numbers. By the end of 2007, there were planned to have 158 CRH trainsets, 514 train numbers in operation.The new trains sliced 2 hours off of the 1,463 km trip between Beijing and Shanghai to a journey of just under 10 hours. Travel times from Shanghai to Changsha (1,199 km) fell by 1.5 hour to 7.5 hours and the trip to Nanchang was halved.

The development of HSR network in China was initially held up by a debate over the type of track technology. In June 1998, at a State Council meeting with the Chinese Academies of Chinese Academies of Sciences and Engineering, Premier Zhu Rongji asked whether the high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai still being planned could use maglev technology. At the time, planners were divided between using high-speed trains with wheels that run on conventional standard gauge tracks or magnetic levitation trains that run on special maglev tracks for a new national high-speed rail network.

Maglev received a big boost in 2000 when the Shanghai Municipal Government agreed to purchase a turnkey TransRapid train system from Germany for the 30.5 km (19.0 mi.) rail link connecting Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the city. In 2004, the Shanghai Maglev Train became the world's first commercially-operated high-speed maglev. It remains the fastest train in China with peak speeds of 431 km/h (267 mph) and makes the 30.5 km (19.0 mi.) in less than 7.5 minutes.

Despite unmatched advantage in speed, the maglev has not gained widespread use in China's high-speed rail network due to high cost, German refusal to share technology and concerns about safety. The price tag of the Shanghai Maglev was believed be $1.3 billion and was partially financed by the German government. The refusal of the Transrapid Consortium to share technology and source production in China made large scale-maglev production much more costly than high-speed train technology for conventional lines. Finally, residents living along the proposed maglev route have raised health concerns about electromagnetic radiation emitted by the trains. These concerns have prevented construction to begin on the proposed extension of the maglev to Hangzhou. Even the more modest plan to extend the maglev to Shanghai's other airport, Hongqiao, has been stalled. Instead, a conventional subway line was built to connect the two airports, and a conventional high-speed rail line was built between Shanghai and Hangzhou.

While the maglev was drawing attention to Shanghai, conventional track HSR technology was being tested on the newly-completed Qinhuangdao-Shenyang (Qinshen) Passenger Railway. This 405 km (251 mi.) standard gauge, dual-track, electrified line was built between 1999 and 2003. In June 2002, a domestically-made DJF2 train set a record of 292.8 km/h (185 mph) on the track. The China Star (DJJ2) train followed the same September with a new record of 321 km/h (200 mph). The line supports commercial train service at speeds of 200–250 km/h, and has become a segment of the rail corridor between Beijing and the Northeast China. The Qinshen Line demonstrates the greater compatibility of HSR on conventional track with the rest of China's standard gauge rail network.

In 2006, the State Council in its Mid-to-Long Term Railway Development Plan, adopted conventional track HSR technology over maglev. This decision ended the debate cleared the way for rapid construction of standard gauge, passenger dedicated HSR lines in China

Despite setting speed records on test tracks, the DJJ2, DJF2 and other domestically-produced high speed trains were insufficiently reliable for commercial operation. The State Council turned to advanced technology abroad but made clear in directives that China's HSR expansion cannot only benefit foreign economies. China's expansion must also be used to develop its own high-speed train building capacity through technology transfers. The State Council, MOR and state-owned train builders, the China North Car (CNR) and China South Car (CSR) used China's large market and competition among foreign train-makers to induce technology transfers.

In 2003, the MOR was believed to favor Japan's Shinkansen technology, especially the 700 series, which was later exported to Taiwan.The Japanese government touted the 40-year track record of the Shinkansen and offered favorable financing. A Japanese report envisioned a winner-take all scenario in which the winning technology provider would supply China's trains for over 8,000 km of high-speed rail.However, Chinese netizens angry with Japan's World War II atrocities organized a web campaign to oppose the awarding of HSR contracts to Japanese companies. The protests gathered over a million signatures and politicized the issue.The MOR delayed the decision, broadened the bidding and adopted a diversified approach to adopting foreign high-speed train technology.

In June 2004, the MOR solicited bids to make 200 high speed train sets that can run 200 km/h.Alstom of France, Siemens of Germany, Bombardier Transportation based in Germany and a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki all submitted bids. With the exception of Siemens which refused to lower its demand of RMB(¥) 350 million per train set and €390 million for the technology transfer, the other three were all awarded portions of the contract. All had to adapt their HSR train-sets to China's own common standard and assemble units through local joint ventures (JV) or cooperate with Chinese manufacturers. Bombardier, through its JV with CSR's Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co (CSR Sifang), Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd (BST). won an order for 40 eight-car train sets based on Bombardier's Regina design. These trains, designated CRH1A, were delivered in 2006. Kawasaki won an order for 60 train sets based on its E2 Series Shinkansen for ¥9.3 billion. Of the 60 train sets, three were directly delivered from Nagoya, Japan, six were kits assembled at CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock, and the remaining 51 were made in China using transferred technology with domestic and imported parts.[24] They are known as CRH2A. Alstom also won an order for 60 train sets based on the New Pendolino developed by Alstom-Ferroviaria in Italy. The order had a similar delivery structure with three shipped directly from Savigliano along with six kits assembled by CNR's Changchun Railway Vehicles, and the rest locally made with transferred technology and some imported parts. Trains with Alstom technology carry the CRH5 designation.

The following year, Siemens reshuffled its bidding team, lowered prices, joined the bidding for 300 km/h trains and won a 60-train set order. It supplied the technology for the CRH3C, based on the Velaro design, to CNR's Tangshan Railway Vehicle Co. Ltd. The transferred technology includes assembly, body, bogie, traction current transforming , traction transformers, traction motors, traction control, brake systems, and train control networks.

With the technologies achieved from foreign companies, Chinese factories are able to produce components of the vehicles. Mitsubishi Electric transfer MT205 traction motor and ATM9 transformer to CSR Zhuzhou Electric, Hitachi transfer YJ92A traction motor to Yongji Electric, Alstom transfer YJ87A Traction motor to Yongji Electric, Siemens transfer TSG series pantograph to Zhuzhou Gofront Electric. most of the component of the CRH trains manufacturer by Chinese companies are from local suppliers, few parts of them are imported.

During June 2005 and September 2005, The Chinese Ministry of Railways launched bidding for High speed trains with a top speed of 350 km/h. as most of the main High Speed Rail lines are designed with top speed of 350 km/h or higher. Along with CRH3C, produce by Siemens and CNR Tangshan. CSR Sifang bid 60 sets of CRH2C.

Within two years of co-operate with Kawasaki to produce 60 CRH2A sets. CSR had “digested” the technology required for their manufacture.since then CSR is no longer co-operating with Kawasaki.Starting from 2008, all CRH2 trains, includes CRH2B, CRH2C and CRH2E were designed and manufactured under key technology developments made by Sifang without Kawasaki. according to CSR president Zhang Chenghong, CSR "made the bold move of forming a systemic development platform for high-speed locomotives and further upgrading its design and manufacturing technology. Later, we began to independently develop high-speed CRH trains with a maximum velocity of 300-350 kilometers per hour, which eventually rolled off the production line in December 2007."

In order to provide higher capacity and more comfortable service in the Jinghu Railway, as the travel time from Beijing to Shanghai is around 10 hours under top speed of 200 km/h in the upgrade railway. on October, 2007, the MOR ordered 70 16-car trainsets from CSR Sifang and BST, includes 10 sets of CRH1B and 20 sets of CRH2B seating trains, 20 sets of CRH1E and 20 sets of CRH2E sleeper trains.

Technical support is one of the most important factor to make Bombardier the first and only company who has a Chinese-foreign joint venture manufacturing railway passenger cars and rolling stock in China. the BST company was established by 1998, as an excellent example of foreign technology applied to the renewal of state-owned enterprises in China. in a interview with Zhang Jianwei, President and Chief Country Representative of Bombardier China, he explained Bombardier's policy in China is "to transfer whatever Bombardier have in the world to the joint venture, to transfer what China market needs without requirement".not like other series who has prototype imported from other countries, all of the CRH1 trains are manufactured in Qingdao.

Construction of China and World's first ever high speed rail with designed speed 380 km/h, the Beijing - Shanghai high speed rail, began on April 18, 2008.at the same year, the Chinese Ministry of Science and the Chinese Ministry of Railway signed the "Cooperation agreement on joint action plan for the independent innovation of high-speed trains in China", the MOR then lauched three projects CRH1-350 (Bombardier and BST, designated as CRH380C/CL),CRH2-350 (CSR, designated as CRH380A/AL),and CRH3-350 (CNR and Siemens, designated as CRH380B/BL), to develop new generation of CRH trains with top operation speed 380 km/h. a total of 400 new generation trains was ordered. CRH380A come into regular service at the Shanghai-Hangzhou High speed rail by October 26, 2010. which is the first high speed train developed by China.

On October 19, 2010, the MOR declared China has begun research and development on a new "super-speed" railway technology, will increase the average speed of trains to over 500 kilometers per hour.

China's high speed rail expansion is entirely managed, planned and financed by the government. After committing to conventional-track high speed rail in 2006, the state has embarked on an ambitious campaign to build passenger-dedicated high-speed rail lines, which accounts for a large part of the government's growing budget for rail construction. Total investment in new rail lines grew from $14 billion in 2004 to $22.7 and $26.2 billion in 2006 and 2007. In response to the global economic recession, the government accelerated the pace of HSR expansion to stimulate economic growth. Total investments in new rail lines including HSR reached $49.4 billion in 2008 and $88 billion in 2009. In all, the state plans to spend $300 billion to build a 25,000 km (16,000 mi.) HSR network by 2020.

Critics both in China and abroad have questioned the necessity of having an expensive high-speed rail system in a largely developing country, where most workers cannot afford to pay a premium for faster travel. The government has justified the expensive undertaking as promoting a number of policy objectives. HSR provides fast, reliable and comfortable means of transporting large numbers of travelers in a densely populated country over long distances, which:

* Improves economic productivity and competitiveness over the long term by increasing the transport capacity of railways and linking labor markets. Moving passengers to high speed lines frees up older railways to carry more freight, which is more profitable for railways than passengers, whose fares are subsidized.
* Stimulates the economy in the short term as HSR construction creates jobs and drives up demand for construction, steel and cement industries during the economic downturn. Work on the Beijing-Shanghai PDL mobilized 110,000 workers.
* Promotes the growth of urban centers and limits sprawl. High-speed rail links city centers, which are building subways. These measures alleviate traffic congestion.
* Supports energy independence and environmental sustainability. Electric trains use less energy to transport people and goods on a per unit basis and can draw power from more diverse sources of energy including renewables than automobile and aircraft, which are more reliant on imported petroleum.

The expansion into HSR is also developing China into a leading source of high-speed rail building technology. Chinese train-makers have absorbed imported technologies quickly and localized production processes. Six years after receiving Kawasaki's license to produce Shinkansen E2, CSC Sifang can produce the CRH2A without Japanese input, and Kawasaki has ended cooperation with Sifang on high speed rail.See sub-section on Technology Exports below on the expansion of China's High-Speed Rail industry overseas.

China's high-speed rail construction projects are highly capital intensive. They are primarily funded by state owned banks and financial institutions, which lend money to the MOR and local governments. The MOR, through its financing arm, the China Rail Investment Corp, issued an estimated ¥1 trillion (US$150 billion in 2010 dollars) in debt to finance HSR construction from 2006 to 2010,including ¥310 billion in the first 10 months of 2010. CRIC has also raised some capital through equity offerings; in the spring of 2010, CRIC sold a 4.5 percent stake in the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway to the Bank of China for ¥6.6 billion and a 4.537 percent stake to the public for ¥6 billion. CRIC retained 56.2 percent ownership on that line. As of 2010, the CRIC-bonds are considered to be relatively safe investments because they are backed by assets (the railways) and implicitly by the government.

Large construction debt-loads require significant revenues from rider fares and other sources of income, such as advertising, to repay. Despite impressive ridership figures, virtually every completed line has incurred losses in its first years of operation. For example, the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway in its two full years of operation, delivered over 41 million rides. The line cost ¥20.42 billion to build, and ¥1.8 billion per annum to operate, including ¥0.6 billion in interest payments on its ¥10 billion of loan obligations.The terms of the loans range from 5–10 years at interest rates of 6.3 to 6.8 percent.In its first year of operation from August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009, the line carried 18.7 million riders and generated ¥11 billion in revenues, which resulted in a loss of ¥0.7 billion. In the second year, ridership rose to 22.3 million and revenues improved to ¥14 billion, which narrowed losses somewhat to below ¥0.5 billion. To break even, the line must deliver 30 million rides annually.To be able to repay principal, ridership would need to exceed 40 million. As of September 2010, daily ridership averaged 69,000 or an annual rate of 25.2 million. The line has a capacity of delivering 100 million rides annually and initial estimated repayment period of 16 years.

The Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan PDL lost ¥0.8 billion in its first year and is set to lose ¥0.9 billion in 2010.The Southeast HSR corridor lost ¥0.377 billion in its first year beginning August 2009. The Zhengzhou-Xian PDL since opening in February 2010 is expected to generate revenues of ¥0.6 billion in its first full year but must make interest payments of ¥1.1 billion. All of these losses must be covered by the operator, which is usually subsidized by local governments.

The MOR faces a debt-repayment peak in 2014.Some economists recommend further subsidies to lower fares and boost ridership and ultimately revenues.Others warn that the financing side of the existing construction and operation model is unsustainable. If the rail-backed loans cannot be fully repaid, they may be refinanced or the banks may seize ownership of the railways.To prevent that eventually, the MOR is trying to improve management of its rapidly growing HSR holdings.

China's high-speed rail system project is ambitious[43] and when the major rail lines are completed by 2020, it will become the largest, fastest, and most technologically advanced high-speed railway system in the world. China's Ministry of Railways plans to build 25,000 km (16,000 miles) of high-speed railways with trains reaching speeds of 350 km/h. China will invest $50 billion on its high-speed rail system in 2009 and the total construction cost of the high-speed rail system is $300 billion.The main operator of regular high-speed train services in the People's Republic of China is China Railway High-Speed (CRH).

China's conventional high-speed railway network is made up of four components:

1. upgraded pre-existing rail lines that can accommodate high-speed trains,
2. a national grid of mostly passenger dedicated HSR lines (PDLs),
3. other newly-built conventional rail lines, mostly in western China, that can carry high-speed passenger and freight trains, and
4. certain regional "intercity" HSR lines.

Most of the rail lines in the latter three categories are now under construction.

Following the "sixth national speed-up campaign" on April 18, 2007, some 6003 km of track could carry trains at speeds of up to 200 km/h. Of these, some 848 km could reach 250 km/h. Passenger train service on the Jiaoji and sections of the Hukun (sections between Hangzhou and Zhuzhou), Guangshen, Jinghu, Jingha, Jingguang, Longhai (from Zhengzhou to Xuzhou) Railways can reach 200–250 km/h. Upgrade work continues on a number of other lines including the Handan, Xianggui, and Ningqi Railway.

The centerpiece of the Ministry of Railway (MOR)'s expansion into high-speed rail is a new national high-speed rail grid that is overlaid onto the existing railroad network. According to the MOR's "Mid-to-Long Term Railway Network Plan" (revised in 2008), this grid is composed of 8 high-speed rail corridors, 4 running north-south and 4 traversing east-west, and has a total of 12,000 km. Most of the new lines follow the routes of existing trunk lines and are designated for passenger travel only. They are known as passenger-designated lines (PDL). Several sections of the national grid, especially along the southeast coastal corridor, were built to link cities which had no previous rail connections. Those sections will carry a mix of passenger and freight, but are sometimes mislabeled as PDLs. High-speed trains on PDLs can generally reach 300–350 km/h. On mixed-use HSR lines, passenger train service can attain peak speeds of 200–250 km/h. This ambitious national grid project was planned to be built by 2020, but the government's stimulus has expedited time-tables considerably for many of the lines.

In addition, Jinqin Passenger Railway (Tianjin-Qinhuangdao) and Qinshen Passenger Railway (Qinhuangdao-Shenyang) are not the component parts of 8 main lines, but these two lines are still included in the PDL network because they are important in linking Beijing-Harbin Line and Beijing-Shanghai Line.

China Railways, the MOR's national rail service operator, provides high speed train service called China Railway High-speed (CRH) (中国铁路高速) on upgraded conventional rail lines, national high speed railways and intercity high-speed lines. The CRH's high speed trains are also called "Harmony Express." In October 2010, CRH service more than 1,000 trains per day, with a daily ridership of about 925,000.as of October 19, 2010,a total of 337 CRH trainsets were put in to use.

Chinese train-makers and rail builders have signed agreements to build HSRs in Turkey, Venezuela and Argentina and are bidding on HSR projects in the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil (São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro) and Myanmar, and other countries. They are competing directly with the established European and Japanese manufacturers, and sometimes partnering with them. In Saudi Arabia's Haramain High Speed Rail Project, Alstom partnered with China Railway Construction Corp. to win the contract to build phase I of the Mecca to Medina HSR line, and Siemens has joined CSR to bid on phase II. China is also competing with Japan, Germany, South Korea, Spain, France and Italy to bid for California's high-speed rail line project, which would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles. In November 2009, the MOR signed preliminary agreements with the state's high speed rail authority and General Electric (GE) under which China would license technology, provide financing and furnish up to 20 percent of the parts with the remaining sourced from American suppliers, and final assembly of the rolling stock in the United States

China has only one maglev high-speed train line in operation: The Shanghai Maglev Train, a turnkey Transrapid maglev demonstration line 30.5 km long. The trains have a top operational speed of 430 km/h and can reach a top non-commercial speed of 501 km/h. It has shuttled passengers between Shanghai's Longyang Road Metro Station and Shanghai Pudong International Airport since March, 2004. Service was briefly interrupted by an electrical fire in 2006. Shanghai authorities have been trying without success to extend the 30.5 km maglev line. An intercity link with Hangzhou was approved by the central government in 2006, but construction has been postponed. Work on a shorter extension to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is also stalled.

The "fastest" train commercial service can be defined alternatively by a train's top speed or average trip speed.

* The fastest train service measured by peak operational speed is the Shanghai Maglev Train which can reach 431 km/h (267.8 mph). Due to the limited length of the Shanghai Maglev track (30 km)(18.6 mi), the maglev train's average trip speed is only 245.5 km/h (152.5 mph). The Shanghai Maglev also holds the record for the top speed in tests of 501 km/h (311.3 mph).
* The fastest train service measured by average trip speed is on the Wuhan-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, where the CRH3/CRH2 coupled-train sets average 312.5 km/h (194.2 mph) on the 922 km (572.9 mi) route from Wuhan to Guangzhou North. It is the fastest commercial train service in the world.
* The top speed attained by a non-maglev train in China is 486.1 km/h (302.11 mph) by a CRH380AL train on the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway during a testing run on December 3rd, 2010.

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