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As for a look beyond high-speed rail... China's high-speed rail construction on crack has been described as a bubble. From a macro-economic viewpoint, it is certainly desirable to at least prevent the collapse of the construction industry once most lines have been constructed already.

In parallel with the high-speed boom, China also continued with the rapid construction of conventional freight-and-passenger mainlines. This certainly won't stop for some time: Western China in particular has a still underdeveloped transport infrastructure.

Also in recent years, Chinese cities started subway construction on crack. While it is relatively well known that Shanghai now has the world's longest metro network and Beijing is not that far behind, three more cities plan networks rivalling those of New York and London and two dozen more are busy boring tunnels or building elevated lines for their networks. In a few years, most cities with multi-million populations will have heavy-rail rapid transit. This construction frenzy is poised to last at least until 2020.

If I could advise Chinese leaders, I would suggest another sector to extend rail construction well into the future: light rail. While light rail can serve as a(n especially orbital) distributor in cities with metros, it can even be the backbone of transit systems for cities with a population down to a hundred thousand – in China, that could mean a potential demand for hundreds of systems.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 30th, 2011 at 04:57:35 PM EST
China amazed me twice recently, first extracting the e coli strain of the German food poisoning, and this. They may be marching beyond what other do not want to give credit to.

I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Fri Jul 1st, 2011 at 03:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding giving credit, there is a story to tell that I didn't want to cram into the diary.

The domestic rail industry was mostly perfecting transferred technology. This included hybridisation: in particular, the Velaro nose support structure (which keeps the nose rigid against wind pressure) replaced the lighter Shinkansen structure in the CRH380A. Meanwhile, some key parts (like motors, power electronics, gears, pantographs) were still supplied from abroad. However, the new trains were presented with nationalistic propaganda, to the extent that sometimes the foreign suppliers weren't mentioned at all.

In particular, there was a row between China and Siemens when a contract for CRH380B trains was announced the the former as one for two Chinese companies exclusively, while Siemens revealed itself as third contractor, and the Chinese media got wind of it. Siemens also insisted that it never transferred the technology for some core components (hence the new version, the CRH380C, with Hitachi electronics).

Meanwhile, however, in a rail technology journal article describing the Velaro D (which I compared to its CRH380B step-sister in the diary), Siemens says that some of the aerodynamic improvements were "tested on Velaros in China". Now, the Velaro D's front design, windshield, support structure, roof extensions, and the spoiler below the nose ('cowcatcher') are new developments that can't just be applied to an existing train, and the underframe shroud cutouts for the bogies are necessarily different due to the narrower cross-section. The remaining possiblitires are: the diaphrams between the cars, the bottom of the train, and perhaps the pantograph wells (the 'holes' in the raised roofs into which the pantographs are lowered).

Then, the question is: who originated these designs (which are present in both the CRH380B and the Velaro D), Siemens or its Chinese partners? It may well be that Siemens practised some reverse technology transfer.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 08:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Railway Gazette: Beijing - Shanghai high speed line opens

CHINA: The world's longest high speed line was inaugurated with simultaneous departures from Beijing and Shanghai at 15.00 on June 30, as part of events marking the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

...According to the ministry, construction has used twice as much concrete as the Three Gorges dam, and 120 times the amount of steel in the Beijing National Stadium. There are 244 bridges and 22 tunnels built to standardised designs, and the route is monitored by 321 seismic, 167 windspeed and 50 rainfall sensors.

There is more about the speed reduction controversy, with an added argument:

Denying suggestions that this is due to safety concerns, He Huawu, Chief Engineer at MoR, stressed that 350 km/h operation has proved successful in China.

However, 300 km/h running on the Beijing - Shanghai PDL will increase capacity and lower operating costs, allowing lower fares to be offered and a wider range of rolling stock to be used...

...and they don't want the speed reduction to appear final:

Raising speeds in the future would depend on how traffic develops.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 1st, 2011 at 05:31:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chinese news clip (with the culturally funny ceremony at launch and an intermediate stop, and the Beijing-end inaugural train's departure 7:40 in):

Chinese news lip of the 486.1 km/h record run:

Edited-together amateur videos by staff about the 487.3 km/h record run (both external and on-board shots):



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 1st, 2011 at 05:52:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An extension to one of Dublin's two light rail lines is opening today - see Luas



Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 1st, 2011 at 09:40:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Argh - the fuss over 'the Luas' gets to me.  It's a tram.  Many other capital cities have networks of these.  Dublin used to.

But in Ireland any form of public transport is exceptional and a thing to be marveled at, and installed for twice the price of anywhere else.

by Pope Epopt on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 08:14:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it is a pretty sleek looking piece of hardware.

I'm not sure whether the big windows are a good idea, though - might feel like a greenhouse in the summer.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 08:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland is hardly exceptional in procurement incompetence. Look at this site or this site for stories on how the Yankees' public agencies are giving mass transit a bad name.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 11:29:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Suburban rail and RER-style systems might be an option too. I've read that Chinese cities haven't really got anything like that. Someone somewhere on SkyscraperCity argued that some metro lines in Shanghai (IIRC) are too long and slow because they're being made to do the job of suburban rail -- they reach a long way outside the city centre but still have very short distances between stations.

And then there are lots of plans for rail links to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc, and a standard gauge freight corridor to Europe...

by Gag Halfrunt on Sat Jul 2nd, 2011 at 11:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last I looked (years ago) Shanghai was supposed to get a RER-type system (with R1, R2,... lines) with the extension and re-designation of choice metro lines (see here for example), apparently the plans were shelved?

UrbanRail.Net > Asia > China > SHANGHAI Subway - Metro

Metro Line 9 (Shensong Line) was conceived as a regional express line (R4), to run from Xu Jia Hui on Line 1 towards the southwest to Song Jiang New City, but it has eventually been developed as a full metro line across the city centre. When it opened in Dec 2007, it was not yet connected to any other metro line.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 2nd, 2011 at 12:05:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
About the rail links: more important than the direct links, the Chinese rail (and road) construction industry quite consciously tries to expand all around the world, but, as recent developments showed, that is a risky business that may not suffice as replacement for the giant home market.

  • In Libya, a programme to build thousands of kilometres of railway to span the entire country was launched under Gaddafi, with China Railway Construction Corp getting a big chunk of it. But work is on hold ever since the rebellion started.
  • Chinese companies pursued mayor projects in a number of other African countries, complete with Chinese government loans in support, but problems arise. In Nigeria, there was a project on the Libyan scale that foundered when a new President came in. There is also a light rail project where funding was withheld from the Chinese contractors.
  • In the road construction sector, there is also a European example, a highway in Poland, where subcontractors closed ranks to ruin their business plans.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 2nd, 2011 at 12:40:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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