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Fascinating stuff.

I'm compelled to make some analogies.

The United States transformed it's industrial economy by disregarding patents on imported goods. Everything that came in was copied and turned into local production.

There's an age old story about Mr Toyoda buying a Mercedes, stripping in down to the finest detail and taking every good idea he saw for his new motor venture.

I'm really not sure what the solution to the above is... there's no way it is in the interest of China to give up on forcing technology transfer. How else do they build an indigenous economy?

However, I think that as you note, a serious issue is that in 5 years time the models with the most proven track record will be the ones used in East Asia, because they are the ones investing in their network at this time.

If European companies want to stay ahead of the game they are going to have to persuade their own governments to keep investing in improving rail transport.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 04:28:42 PM EST
...and not merely to keep on investing, but taking some risks in investing in new developments. (Unfortunately, the one big new development governments and the EU gave money for, that damn ERTMS Level 2, looks like a bad decision.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 04:35:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I seem to recall you wrote about ERTMS 2 earlier on, but I don't remember the details..
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 04:53:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The last time, in reply to nanne.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 04:57:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Erk, now I remember, 3G wireless for critical infrastructure = bad news...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 05:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for the link, i also was wondering what this techmology was about.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 05:43:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We need to spend more on Trans European Transport Networks, indeed.

The European TEN-T page seems to have last been updated in 2004...

Transport: TEN-T maps - European commission

The trans-European transport networks policy is not new. In fact, it has existed since the Maastricht Treaty was signed in the 1990s. After 10 years, however, it was clear that the results were falling short of the original ambitions. In 2003, barely one third of the network had been built. And only three of the 14 specific projects endorsed by the European Council at Essen in 1994 had been completed.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 05:08:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To link to another discussion: Is this the kind of thing the EP should be more involved in than they are?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 07:02:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Difficult to answer that one.

Yes, the European Parliament should do more on this. But where can they? The only time they can exert meaningful influence on transport funding is during the annual debate on the EU's budget. A sizeable share of that budget (the first pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy) is locked. Mandatory expenditure, as they call it. Can't be changed, can't be blocked.

Meanwhile, the major part of the financing for the budget still comes directly from the national governments.

Transport policy falls under co-decision, so the Directives and Regulations can be amended and rejected. But the right of initiative remains with the Commission, which limits the EP's ability to drive changes.

Practically speaking, the EP can only improve this at the margins.

The EP might exert more pressure on the Member States to finish their TEN-T projects if it would work more in tandem with the Commission. The EP has in general been getting more power at the cost of the Commission, not the Council. This is unfortunate, but not necessarily with regard to transport policy.

The sitting Commission has not treated transport as a priority and has not had a good transport policy to begin with. The main thing I remember is moving away from a modal shift (toward rail and water) to 'co-modality', which was stupid.

The European Parliament elections could also change the kind of Commission we get. The Commission has to be approved by the EP and the national governments will have to deal (to some extent) with the outcome. So I think it is a theme that should be big in the EP elections.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 08:07:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China would do well to soften its technology transfer standards.  My only experience is with wind technology, where with thousands of megawatts installed the past two years (5K? and nearly equal this year?), the performance of the turbines is horrible.  Both sides of a good deal need to be successful, you can't just steal technology and then expect help when it breaks.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 04:43:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You say that, but the experience of developing countries is that if you don't steal technology you get to stay grubbingly poor and completely unable to create an infrastructure for yourself because the furriners end up owning everything.

The typical Western company's notion of a good deal in the 3rd world is "Heads we win, Tails you lose."

As such, stealing things you don't understand and working them out through painful trial and error sucks, but the alternatives suck more.

If wind power was just a matter of making deals with Crazy Horse, then I'd advise China to change their ways, but if you're dealing people like Tulsi Tanti then you need to keep your own long term interests very much in mind, because they certainly will sell you down the river whenever possible.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 04:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Point well taken, even understood.  But mirroring the arguments of the Alstom chief, Chinese wind turbine manufacturers are already undercutting the global market.  It's not wrong for developing countries to take the technology, as the alternatives for them are worse, but if Chinese wind turbines are any indication, they should wait before they expect international sales.

Get it right first, then go all out.

With high-speed trains it's a bit different, as wind turbines don't carry passengers.

PS.  I was grilled Friday by a major hedge fund (or as they say, Capital Market) on Tulsi Tanti's empire.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 05:41:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ummm...everything I've heard says (in all but the short term, maybe) buy Enercon and sell Suzlon...if either were possible....but then I'm on the outside looking in.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 06:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't know who you're hearing from, but you are correct that Suzlon has significant hurdles to overcome.  The trouble is (one trouble is), you can't buy Enercon as it's privately held.

(We can discuss this personally as I will be in Edinburgh 27-29 Jan.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 07:44:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like I'll be back from Tehran the evening of the 27th.

You'd be welcome to stay at the Grange. When are you getting in and out?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 07:59:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's take it to email.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 08:41:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I would, but I must have mislaid yours....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 10:10:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crazy Horse:
Get it right first, then go all out.

Well, I agree... but then I'm not a "financial engineer"... ;-)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 17th, 2009 at 07:01:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unpossible.  We invent everything.  Don't need no stinking patents.  Like I told TBG in re: the Internets and porn.

We even invented magic ponies.  Just ask Tom Friedman.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Jan 18th, 2009 at 01:58:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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