High speed is high on CR’s development agenda

first_imgHANDOVER of Hong Kong to China on July 1 is of huge significance to Chinese Railways. The former colony’s role as a gateway city to the CR network is reflected in plans to develop Hong Kong’s already heavily used railways (p461), while completion of the Jing-Jiu line (p455) could hardly be a more potent symbol of the ties that bind the Special Administrative Region to the mainland.CR ran its first through passenger trains from Beijing and Shanghai to Kowloon in May. The trip from the capital on May 18 took 29h 40min, and passengers on the Shanghai train which departed on the following day were on board for 29h 6min. Both trains were formed of 16 Type 25k coaches, reduced to 12 cars for the final leg from Guangzhou, on which the Beijing train reached 160 km/h.It is of no small significance that the Guangzhou – Shenzhen main line was chosen for the launch of quasi-high speed services in 1994 (RG 2.95 p97). CR has meanwhile announced a project to develop a train able to run at 220 km/h which will be tested between Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the second half of 1999 at up to 200 km/h. It will be a fixed formation set comprising a power car at each end enclosing eight single-deck and two double-deck cars. The unit should be complete by the end of 1998, and trial running will begin early in 1999. Design is currently in the hands of the Changchun Car Co, and the works in Zhuzhou, Puzhen, Sifang and Tangshan.When this set is complete, CR will be able to compare its performance with that of a train already well proven at 200 km/h – a Swedish X2000 unit is due to arrive in China in December. The Adtranz-owned train will be leased to the Ministry of Railways for two years, and initial trials will take place between Guangzhou and Kowloon.This will depend on completion of electrification work over the 158 km between Guangzhou and the Hong Kong frontier at Lo Wu. A contract for the French company Spie Batignolles to supply overhead line equipment was announced during President Chirac’s visit to Beijing in May – it had been signed just before the president’s trip. By the end of August Spie will design and supply TGV-based catenary equipment that will allow operation at up to 250 km/h. The Chinese will take responsibility for installation, and the aim is to have it ready for operation by the end of the year.Meanwhile, other routes are not being neglected. In April Chinese Railways lifted the maximum speed of passenger services on seven key routes radiating from Beijing to 140 km/h. One objective is to provide overnight service between major cities, requiring faster running over long distances. This will challenge rolling stock and civil engineers, as well as operators who must path the trains past slower services.Air-conditioned stock is being introduced on a number of premium services, and on specially designated tourist trains in southern China. Development of an advanced design of passenger coach is one of the objectives in China’s ninth five-year plan (1996-2001).One of CR’s most ambitious research projects is development of a test car able to run at 300 km/h. Given that CR’s ability to operate trains in commercial service at this speed is still a distant prospect, it is not clear precisely why the vehicle is being built.Perhaps the greatest challenge lies in achieving the new line construction objectives. To meet the ever growing demand for bulk freight movement, thousands of kilometres of new line are being built, and more new routes including a passenger-only high speed route from Qinhuangdao to Shenyang are being added to the list. The go-ahead for a line from Guangzhou to the Zhuhai special economic zone was announced in May. According to Minister of Railways Han Zhubin, the target is to reach 70000 route-km by 2000 – this total includes local railways and joint ventures. Yet even this will not suffice to meet demand as China’s economy continues to boom.Other ways of raising capacity include double-tracking and electrification, and CR has a huge programme of work in hand. So far around 10 000 route-km have been wired at 25 kV 50 Hz. Last year CR carried 1 616 million tonnes of freight, around 1.4% more than in 1995. In contrast, passenger journeys fell by 12%, perhaps reflecting the capacity bottlenecks that dog CR’s ambitions.Rolling stock producers are striving to keep pace with the growing network, with huge numbers of electric and diesel locomotives under construction. In the five years to 1995 average annual production of electric locomotives was 183, of diesel units 660, passenger coaches 1 950 and freight wagons 26 600. Higher figures are expected in the current five-year plan. Production of metro cars includes 174 vehicles for Beijing at Changchun; the power cars will be equipped with three-phase traction equipment under an agreement with suppliers Toyo Denki Seizo KK and Nichimen of Japan.Chinese factories at Dalian and Sifang are also building rolling stock for export. This includes 50 diesel locos for Nigerian Railway Corp, plus 70 coaches and wagons. Changchun is also supplying metro stock to Tehran (p465). While further development of heavy haul freight remains at the top of CR’s agenda because of the need to move huge tonnages of coal, minerals and fuel, CR is also conscious of the requirement to provide faster shipment of merchandise freight. One avenue being explored is to run multiple-unit freight trains based on the German CargoSprinter design. First route likely to receive them could be the 300 km between Shanghai and Nanjing. A fleet of 20 to 30 so-called ’Rail Runners’ probably costing around DM2m each could be built by Windhoff of Rheine; discussions were still under way in mid-June. oCAPTION: The first through train from Beijing reached the Kowloon-Canton Railway’s Hung Hom terminus on May 19. It is seen here at Kowloon Tong behind a Class DF11 diesel locomotiveCAPTION: Forming a key element in the landbridge corridor to Central Asia, CR’s 502 km Baoji – Zhongwei line completed last year was opened 7 months earlylast_img

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