BUSINESS: China’s High-Speed Rail System Is Being Built

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by Daniel Webster, dWeb.News Publisher

BEIJING, Nov. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — High-speed rail (HSR) is an important indicator of the modernization of a country’s transportation and a significant reflection of its level of industrialization. the many generations of railway workers who dedicated their lives to HSR development, China has made significant progress in HSR. From being behind other countries to being ahead of the pack and leading the world, HSR is now more than 40 years late than most developed countries.

China has built the world’s largest and most modern HSR network.

An attendant interacts with passengers on a high-speed train. Many services, including electronic tickets, online ordering of meals, quiet carriages and smart interfaces, have been introduced to China’s high speed rail network. This provides passengers with a comfortable, safe and convenient experience.

Since the BeijingTianjin intercity railway – China’s first train line with a design speed of 350 km/h – was completed in 2008, dozens of HSR routes have been completed and gone into service. After the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 in particular, the development of HSR moved onto fast track, with average annual construction of 3,500 km of railway. The speed and quality of the construction received worldwide acclaim.

China’s HSR network is the longest in operation.

At the end of 2020, China had 37,900 km of operational HSR, accounting for 69 percent of the world’s total. This included 13,700 km (36 percent of China’s total) of railways with a maximum operating speed of 300-350 km/h, and 24,200 km (64 percent) with a maximum operating speed of 200-250 km/h.

– China has the fastest commercial railways in the world.

China’s Fuxing trains operate at a speed of 350 km/h on 1,910 km of HSR lines, including the BeijingShanghai, BeijingTianjin, Beijing-Zhangjiakou, and ChengduChongqing routes. China is the only country in the world with commercially operated HSR trains that travel at 350 km/h. The country’s HSR network runs from northeast forests to snowy plains and the Yangtze River Delta to the east, and traverses rivers and mountains to reach every corner. Although originally the HSR system was designed along four major north/south routes and four main east-west ones, it is now being expanded to include eight major north/south routes as well as eight major east/west routes. The system already covers 92 percent of Chinese cities each with a population of more than half a million.

China has built a world-leading HSR system with independent intellectual property.

China has a complete HSR technology system consisting of three main areas: engineering construction, equipment manufacturing, and operations management. HSR technology in China is at the forefront of global innovation. It has made a significant leap from being a laggard to a leader in many fields.

– Engineering construction

Due to China’s complex and diverse terrain and climate, construction of the HSR network has required overcoming some of the world’s most difficult technical challenges, including in the areas of railway foundations, tracks, long and large bridges and tunnels, mass transit stations, and system integration. China has created a comprehensive set of technologies to construct HSR in varying geological and climatic conditions. These achievements include the construction of the Shanghai-Sutong Yangtze River Bridge and the Wufengshan Yangtze River Bridge, both of which have main spans exceeding 1 km; six world-class HSR bridges each with a span exceeding 500m, including the Tianxingzhou Yangtze River Bridge in Wuhan; more than 100 HSR tunnels over 10 km in length, including the Shiziyang Tunnel on the GuangzhouShenzhenHong Kong express rail link and the Qinling tunnels on the Xi’an-Chengdu HSR route; and many modern HSR hub stations, including Beijing South, Shanghai Hongqiao, and Guangzhou South. In recognition of these feats, several HSR bridges and tunnels have won the industry’s highest awards issued by the International Tunnel and Underground Space Association (ITA-AITES) and the International Bridge Conference (IBC).

– HSR technology and equipment

Following the introduction of advanced technology from abroad, China jointly designed and built the Hexie bullet (also known as electric multiple unit (EMU)) train with its partners. Then, after persevering with independent innovation, China broke through technical bottlenecks to develop the world-class Fuxing Chinese Standardized EMU, featuring completely independent intellectual property, which includes the Fuxing Intelligent EMU model, the world’s first train capable of automatic operation at 350 km/h. China has developed a range of Fuxing train products at different speed grades in the range of 160-350 km/h, which can be adapted to operate in harsh environments, such as plateaus, extremely-cold areas, high winds, and sandy conditions. To meet the unique requirements of HSR, China independently developed the CTCS-3 control system and built a dispatch control system using SCADA, giving the network a powerful, safe, and reliable central nervous system and power supply system. HSR has also been benefitted from other advanced technologies such as 5G, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and big data.

– Operations management

China has mastered the full gamut of HSR operations management technologies despite the complexity of the rail network. It has developed scheduling technology to allow for cross-line, high-density routes (running on HSR or conventional rail) that operate at different speeds. It has been able to overcome the problems of operating multiple EMUs and speed classes over long and cross-line distances. The system offers high-density public transportation along busy intercity railways with departure intervals of only 4-5 minutes during peak times.

– Safe production

Safety has been boosted with the help of science and technology. The Fuxing Intelligent EMU has more than 2,700 monitored points, and features in-transit self-awareness, health management, and fault diagnosis technologies, which provide comprehensive real-time monitoring of train operations. also has developed online monitoring systems to monitor HSR equipment. These include high-speed inspection vehicles, on-track detection devices and sensing devices. They use big data analysis for precise control of HSR infrastructure. The development of monitoring equipment for natural disasters (including snow, wind, and rain) and systems that detect foreign objects and monitor earthquake monitoring and early warning systems can help to mitigate public security risks and reduce the risk of natural disasters.

With the focus on realizing people’s desire for a better life and reforming the supply structure of transportation in China, a passenger transportation quality improvement plan and Fuxing brand strategy have been implemented to improve the all-round experience and operations of HSR.

– Safety

China’s HSR puts safety first and focuses on quality in every aspect of construction and operations management. It has a program to “create solid foundations, meet standards and raise quality and efficiency” and a three-pronged security management system that includes human, material and technological defenses. This allows for comprehensive management of HSR’s external security environment and ensures safety and reliability. As of the end of June 2021, China’s HSR system had safely travelled 9. 28 billion km, equivalent to 232,000 laps around the Earth, and safely transported 14. 12 billion passengers.

– Efficiency

As part of the operational efficiency of the HSR network, train timetables are dynamically altered each day of the year to optimize HSR supply, allowing the number of trains operating to grow and their coverage to expand. At present, the national railways operate an average of more than 7,400 HSR trains per day, accounting for 77 percent of all passenger trains. A report issued by the World Bank in 2019 stated that passenger density on China’s HSR services is about twice the density of HSR in Europe.

– Comfort

China’s HSR lines are constructed from ballastless track, with heavy-duty superlong steel rails and seamless tracks, for an extremely smooth ride. Fuxing EMU has a high-speed bogie that provides excellent damping performance. This ensures low vehicle vibration acceleration, noise, and amplitude. It also meets the highest international standards of onboard stability. To improve safety and comfort as trains pass through tunnels at high speed, technical issues such as train aerodynamics, wheel rail contact, and train tightness were addressed. The on-board air conditioning system provides fresh air at a rate of 16 m3 per person per hour, which is 7 percent-60 percent higher than the HSR trains of other countries. The carriages are wide and spacious, with a cross-sectional area of 11.2 m2, which is 14.3 percent larger than other countries, offering passengers a more comfortable travel environment.

– Convenience

China has built the world’s largest online railway ticketing system (known as 12306), which has the capacity to sell up to 20 million tickets each day. Currently, 86.2 percent of tickets are sold online, with the single-day record at 90 percent. The launch of the 12306 platform has facilitated e-ticketing, mobile payments, online seat selection, entry into stations using facial recognition, and pre-order meal services. For the benefit of elderly and non-Internet users, traditional services such as station ticket sales windows and paper tickets have been preserved. This has greatly improved the quality and service of China’s railroads.

– Cost

The World Bank’s 2019 report stated that even though many Chinese HSR lines have a high proportion of their route on viaducts or in tunnels, the Chinese network has been built at only two-thirds the average cost in other countries, and the economic rate of return is positive, giving reason to be optimistic about the long-term economic viability of the major trunk railways.

(This article is an excerpt from “Building China’s Impressive High-Speed Rail”, by Lu Dongfu, Chairman of the Board of China State Railway Group, originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, English edition, No. 5, 2021)


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