After high-speed success at home, China’s railway industry sets its sights abroad

Updated 2016-11-21 10:41:41 Global Times

China's railway technology, which is undergoing continuous innovation and climbing up into the world's leading echelon, has become something that the country is known for around the world.

The 600 kilometer-an-hour maglev train project, which run faster than any other type of trains in operation today, is in the full swing of development by China's largest rail transportation equipment maker, State-owned CRRC Corp, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

The experiment began in October in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. It is expected to be completed by 2021, the statement noted.

If successful, the project will be one of the industry's latest technological breakthroughs, catching up with the test speed record of 603 kilometers an hour that Japan has held since April 2015, Wu Mengling, a professor of railway construction at Shanghai-based Tongji University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

China is already home to the world's fastest commercially operating train, with the Shanghai Maglev Train connecting Longyang Road station with Pudong International Airport. The maglev runs at a speed of 431 kilometers an hour, Wu noted.

In addition to maglev trains, China's homegrown high-speed rail industry has gone one step further and embarked on a global march.

China has sold its high-speed rail know-how across the world in recent years, and has already constructed more than 5,000 kilometers of high-speed rail in countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabic, Thailand, Russia, Indonesia and Hungary, said media reports.

The world-class expertise also brought export opportunities for high-speed-railway-related equipment and products such as medium-speed rail stock, bullet trains and light rail systems, according to CRRC. The exports accounted for 30 percent of the global locomotive market in 2015.

"We have exported equipment to 101 countries and regions, and revenues from the overseas market are surging," Zhang Yong, a spokesperson of CRRC, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that orders from foreign market have grown 126 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2016.

The acclaimed railway tech products have also knocked on the doors of traditional leading player in the sector like Germany. Deutsche Bahn, Germany's national railway operator, is opening a purchasing office in Beijing and will start buying trains and spare parts from China in the next three to five years, chnrailway.com reported in September. The Germany company was not available for comment as of press time.

Made in China

When Chinese Premier Li Keqiang promoted China's high-speed rail during his visits to Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe, he told foreign railway company executives that China's homegrown rail technologies were safe, reliable and economically competitive.

Such cost-effectiveness features are the biggest advantages of China's homegrown high-speed railways, Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

For example, Chinese rail costs were priced between million and million per kilometer on average, while non-Chinese companies charge between million and million per kilometer, according to a paper titled High-Speed Railways in China: A Look at Construction Costs issued by the World Bank in July 2014.

China's bullet trains were also one-third cheaper than long-standing high-speed rail exporters Japan and Germany, and took half the time to build as the Japanese ones, South China Morning Post reported on June 27.

At the same time, "China has set the world record many times thanks to its cutting-edged and innovative expertise," said Wu, the professor.

Since the first high-speed rail debut in 2008 between Beijing and Tianjin, the country has built the world's largest network of high-speed rail - more than 12,000 kilometers, or 60 percent of world's total, with a network extending from Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where the temperature usually plunges to -30 C, to Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, where the temperatures can rise above 40 C, and even to the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Southwest China.

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