CHINA will this year attempt to break the world rail speed record currently held by France, according to a report in China Daily. The attempt will be made using an experimental train being built by CSR.
A CHR380A train, also produced by CSR, set a new Chinese record of 486.1km/h on December 3. This is the highest speed ever attained by an unmodified production train.
The current world record of 574.8km/h was set by the V150 test train on TGV Est on April 4 2007, smashing the previous record of 515.3km/h, which was also achieved in France 17 years earlier. If successful China will become the first Asian country to hold the title since Japan lost the record to France in 1981.
CNR's latest high-speed train, the CRH380B (pictured) which is a development of the CRH3, reached 357km/h on December 5 during test running with the prototype on a completed section of the Beijing - Shanghai high-speed line.
The first 11 production trains were due to roll out of CNR's Tangshan plant by the end of last month. CNR is supplying a fleet of 70 16-car trains.
CRH380B has a design speed of 400km/h, an operating speed of 350km/h, and a maximum output of 18.4MW with half the cars powered. The train has improved aerodynamics by enclosing the inter-car bellows with rubber sections and enclosing the bogies more than on CRH3.
CRH380B has a new interior design and four classes: sightseeing, grand, first and second, plus a dining car. Each train seats 1026 passengers.
Vientiane - Kunming construction to begin this year
THE deputy prime minister of Laos, Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, announced in Beijing that construction will start early this year of a high-speed line from the Laotian capital Vientiane to Kunming, in southwest China, as part of the planned rail link from Singapore to Kunming.
"Project feasibility has been carried out very rapidly," said Somsavat. "Construction will start early in 2011 and be completed in four year's time. We believe this project should contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of Laos."
Laos only has 3.5km of railway: a link from Thanaleng to Nong Khai in Thailand which opened in 2008 and is operated by State Railway of Thailand. Plans to extend this line to Vientiane have remained on the drawing board.
GE and CSR joint Venture to target American high-speed market
GE has agreed a cooperative framework contract with CSR to establish a US-based joint venture to advance high-speed and other rail technology in the United States. The agreement places the companies in a strong position to supply high-speed passenger trains for the proposed high-speed corridors in Florida and California.
The partnership represents an investment of approximately $US 50 million in the joint venture with the potential to sustain or create 250 US jobs by 2012 for the first phase of the agreement.
"We are committed to advancing the global high-speed rail technology market and this agreement provides a significant opportunity for infrastructure and business growth," says GE vice-chairman Mr John Rice.
"It is in line with GE's company-to-country initiatives and will help support investment and high-tech job growth in America."
All final production of high-speed passenger trains will take place in the US to meet Buy America standards, and the joint venture says that it has the potential to create 3500 long-term manufacturing jobs.
Chinese vice-premier's five HS priorities
THE vice-premier of China's State Council, Mr Zhang Dejiang, set out five priorities for the development of high-speed rail in China during the opening session of the UIC's world congress on high-speed rail in Beijing.
Ensure operating safety. "We must enhance safety awareness through technology, quality and management," Zhang told delegates. "Technology must be of good quality to be reliable, and we must improve training."
Promote technological innovation. "We must invest in high-speed R&D to realise new innovations, breakthrough technologies and independent intellectual property rights."
Unify social and economic benefits. "We should make every effort to improve services and put the needs of passengers first. We must improve efficiency by for example having better station layouts."
Strengthen energy conservation and environmental protection. "We must make every effort to use less land and water, and protect plants, ecology and the environment. We must reduce energy consumption and save energy."
Expand the opening up of Chinese railway development. "We are willing to share the development of high-speed technology with other countries and strengthen cooperation. We are encouraging Chinese companies to go global," Zhang says.
MOR's chief planner argues why countries should invest in HSR
THE chief planning officer with China's Ministry of Railways (MOR), Mr Zheng Jian, says there are three main reasons to invest in HSR.
"Developing a high-speed network can improve a country's competitiveness, which depends on technological progress," says Zheng.
"High-speed rail is an integration of advanced technologies, and can not only increase capacity but is also a means of stimulating industrial development.
"HSR is environmentally friendly, by producing less CO2 and being greener, so it is important for the development of transport in the future.
"Finally, HSR creates huge efficiency for the economic and social development of a country. HSR is not just a technical innovation or a mode of transport; it is a tool to boost economic and social development."
Apta president outlines six-point plan to develop high-speed
THE president of the American Public Transportation Association (Apta), Mr Bill Miller, says there are six key areas that will determine whether the United States will move ahead with high-speed rail or remain an "also ran."
"We need to increase the capacity and efficiency of all our transportation modes - congestion in the air and on our highways has increased dramatically," says Miller. "We must also reduce our carbon footprint and become greener.
"It will take strong national leadership. Both President Obama and Vice-President Biden understand rail, and the president's initiatives have been a great help in moving things forward.
"We need strong advocacy, not only by Apta, but by others that want to see high-speed rail become a reality. We are also looking to business groups with an interest in seeing progress.
"We need a comprehensive piece of legislation - in the past the legislation was on an ad hoc basis. We believe if the federal government takes the lead it will give an impetus to the states.
"The private sector is very important in America, and has seen the benefits of investing in rail locally.
"Finally," says Miller, "because we don't have an extensive passenger rail network, we need to develop the conventional rail network hand-in-hand with high-speed rail to get over the problem of the ‘last mile' to get passengers to their final destination."