Two engineers conduct a test on a new tram just off the production line at the CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co Ltd. (Long Hongtao / Xinhua)
Rail-ware 'capital' Zhuzhou, the 'Engine Valley', dares to punch above its weight
Zhuzhou, a small city (population: 4.05 million) in central China's Hunan province, has an ambition to emerge as the "engine" of China's growth. It's not an unrealistic ambition or a fantasy, considering that local railway industry's output exceeded 100.37 billion yuan (.55 billion) last year.
Home to 62 rail transit related enterprises, including several arms of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp Ltd, such as Zhuzhou Institute Co Ltd, Zhuzhou Locomotive Co Ltd and Zhuzhou Times Electrics Co Ltd, Zhuzhou also boasts major manufacturers and exporters of China-made railway products. More than 70 countries and regions source products from Zhuzhou.
"Along with the rail transit research and production capacity, we have strong advantages in manufacturing clean energy buses and small and medium-sized aerocraft engines," said Mao Tengfei, the top official of Zhuzhou, adding the city is planning to position itself as the valley of China's economic engines.
China's first independently-innovated low-speed maglev line, linking the airport of Changsha, capital of Hunan province, with the downtown has been running for more than 200 days. The 18.5 kilometers airport express, with a top speed of 100 km per hour, were created by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co Ltd.
Hauled by such "engines" in the form of rail transport, new energy vehicles and aerocraft industry, the output of the city's three big industrial sectors is expected to reach 400 billion yuan by 2021. The rail transit sector will account for half of it, and one fifth of the total production will go to international markets,according to the city's action plan to build "Engine Valley".
In 2015, revenue of Zhuzhou's rail transit equipment, auto and aerocraft grew 31 percent, 52 percent and 22 percent year-on-year respectively.
A 20-billion-yuan innovation park was set up to enhance the research and development capability of the rail transportation sector.
Another 20-billion-yuan project will be implemented to facilitate the growth of small and medium-sized aerocraft engines.
Hunan Sunward Science and Technologies Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Hunan Sunward Intelligent Machinery Co Ltd, a private manufacturer of general aviation products, debuted its independently innovated new model of carbon fiber-made Sunward SA60L aircraft at the Air Show in Zhuhai earlier this month.
He Qinghua, chairman of Sunward, said the SA 60L plane, also called "Aurora", is the result of 10 years of efforts, and is capable of flying 1,300 kilometers non-stop by consuming just eight liters of aviation fuel per 100 km.
Liu Daxi, deputy general manager of Zhuzhou CRRC Times Electric Co Ltd, said the company spends up to 20 percent of its annual revenue on R&D.
"We'll have wider and deeper strength on international cooperation," Liu said. The company is now focusing more efforts on cooperation with overseas universities to consolidate its R&D ability and widen talent pool.
It has also established closer ties with the University of Sheffield, the University of Nottingham and the University of Cambridge in the UK and the University of Michigan in the U.S., along with several domestic ones, including Tsinghua University.