The future of high-speed trains: Visiting a train laboratory

Updated: Dec 2, 2018 Print

Railway infrastructure remains a key area of cooperation between China and its G20 counterparts and China's leading rolling stock equipment makers are also seizing opportunities to go global. CGTN visited CRRC Sifang in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, where over 40 percent of the country's high-speed trains are developed, to talk the future of trains.

At the national engineering lab for high-speed trains in CRRC Sifang, Zhang Zhiqiang and his co-workers are making final preparations. Three days later, they will start the latest train body strength test on trains made with carbon-fiber composite materials.

"The current test is for our next generation metro vehicles made of carbon-fiber composite materials. The light trains are greener and lighter in weight," said Zhang, the laboratory's deputy director.

With 18 test rigs in total, this national lab has already conducted more than 200 tests for Sifang's rail equipment in 2018. "Engineers here have a heavy workload since we need to test the performance of vehicle models in different areas and components such as bogies and car body shells," Zhang added.

China started to introduce high-speed trains and technology from abroad in 2004. From imports to manufacturing at home, Chinese train manufacturers like Sifang have come a long way, particularly in scientific research.

"Chinese railway systems have evolved in the last century, and we expedited our efforts after introducing foreign models. We conducted numerous tests to adapt to real situations in different regions of China," said Tao Guidong, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Sifang.

2010 is often thought as the landmark year since Sifang developed its own electric high-speed train known as the CRH 380A. In 2017, the first batch of Fuxing bullet trains, which can run up to 350km per hour, started operations between Beijing and Shanghai. It represents the latest in China's rolling stocks development. Sifang played a key role in its design and manufacturing.

"One is to continue increasing the speed of our trains... for instance, we are currently working on the development of a 600km per hour maglev train. We also aim to make our trains more environmentally friendly, including the use of new materials and energy resources," said Tao.

With the country's booming rolling stock, Sifang is now eyeing overseas markets such as Southeast Asia, the US and South America. Products include high-speed trains, metro and intercity vehicles among others.

"We could not simply go out, rather we need to integrate with the local market. What we are offering our clients are not just customized products, but a life-circle technical support and services," said Gong Ruiming, general manager of Overseas Business Division at CRRC Sifang.

So far, the rolling stock equipment maker has received export orders of more than 5,000 vehicles, covering over 20 countries and regions. The latest deal was signed with Chile in October, another major breakthrough for Sifang in South American markets after Argentina and Brazil.

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