Posts tagged ‘High-speed rail’


This Spanish Company Says It Holds the Key to Speed on India’s Crooked Railways – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s trains are notoriously slow and outdated, but a Spanish train maker says it can change that with coaches that can squeeze much more speed out of the country’s crooked railways.

Talgo S.A. has been wooing India for years as the South Asian nation has one of the largest railway networks in the world and big plans to upgrade its rail infrastructure.

The Madrid-based company got its breakthrough this year when it got the go-ahead to test its coaches on few routes in India to prove its trains can slash travel times for the 13 million people who use the state-owned Indian Railways every day. Talgo claims its coaches can cut travel time by up to 30%.

The existing average maximum speed of Indian passenger trains is 110 kilometers per hour, according to Vijay Kumar, executive director for infrastructure and mechanical engineering at Indian Railways.

One of Indian Railways’ current fastest trains–the Rajdhani Express–travels between Delhi and Mumbai in around 16 hours. Talgo says the same journey with its coaches will take less than 11 hours.

India has traditionally built its own trains and Talgo is the first foreign train-manufacturer to be given permission to conduct trials, said Mr. Kumar.

The tests of the trains began last weekend between Bareilly and Moradabad in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and will be expanded to two other routes.

The main selling point of the Talgo coaches is that India won’t need to change the tracks for them.

“For any conventional train you need a lot of investment in the existing infrastructure but with Talgo train you don’t need any investment in the infrastructure and it can start going at higher speed,” said Subrat Nath, director for India and Asia-Pacific region at Talgo.

Despite India’s dependence on its railways, the system has become outdated and overburdened.

“India is unique and alone among the major countries of the world in not having a single high-speed rail corridor,” said a document presented to the Indian Parliament in 2009 titled “Indian Railways Vision 2020.”

The Congress party-led government back then said it would upgrade the current tracks and build “state-of-the-art high-speed corridors” for the trains to run up to 350 kilometers, or 217 miles, per hour.

In the latest step in that direction, India launched its first “semi-high speed” train in April–the Gatimaan Express– between Delhi and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. The train has a maximum speed of 160 kilometers, or 99 miles, per hour, cutting the fastest travel time between the capital and Agra by more than 15 minutes.

One of the biggest factors slowing down Indian Railways’ 7,000 passenger trains is the country’s long and winding railroads. There are 495 speed-killing curves in the tracks between Delhi and Mumbai alone, said Mr. Kumar at Indian Railways.

Straightening out existing tracks or building straight ones from scratch is too expensive, said Mr. Kumar, so the trains from Talgo and others which offer more speed on curvy lines could be the best option.

Talgo coaches use a “natural tilting mechanism” which allows them to go up to 20% faster on curves than conventional coaches, Mr. Kumar said.

He said the trials will test whether the trains perform as promised. India has not committed to ordering from Talgo yet.

Talgo’s Mr. Nath says the company is ready to build the coaches in India if it can get the orders.“India can be a key market for us,” he said.

Source: This Spanish Company Says It Holds the Key to Speed on India’s Crooked Railways – India Real Time – WSJ


What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company

What could happen in China in 2015?

What do you get when you add slower economic growth, greater volatility, and rising competition to more international flights and genuine Chinese innovation? McKinsey director Gordon Orr’s annual predictions.

December 2014 | byGordon Orr

It seemed harder to prepare my “look ahead” this year. On reflection, I believe this is because political and economic leaders in China have clear plans and supporting policies that they are sticking to. You can debate the pace at which actions are being taken, but not really the direction in which the country is traveling. This means a number of the themes I highlighted for this year will remain relevant in 2015:

What could happen in China in 2015?

Author Gordon Orr discusses his China predictions with McKinsey director Nick Leung and principal Yougang Chen.

Improving productivity and efficiency will remain the key to maintaining profitability for many companies, given lower economic growth (overall and at a sector level) and the impact of producer price deflation on multiple sectors.

The impact of technology as it eliminates jobs in services and manufacturing will become even greater (but still not in government).

As a result, the government will keep a sharper focus on net job creation and the quality of those new positions. Companies will hire even more information technologists to keep up in the race to exploit technology better than their competitors.

The push to lower pollution, and now carbon emissions, will lead to even greater investment in domestic solar and wind farms, boosting the global position of Chinese producers.

High-speed-rail construction will continue domestically and increasingly abroad, as Chinese companies become the builder of choice for high-speed rail globally.

Beyond these, there are several additional themes that will be important in 2015. I describe them below.

What else may happen in 2015? – see article:

via What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company.


High-speed trains steer to overseas destinations[1]-

Chinese high-speed train companies are eyeing more contracts in overseas markets.

High-speed trains steer to overseas destinations

“The US will be the next strategic focus for us, after successfully winning the Boston contract,” Yu Weiping, vice-president of China CNR Corp, told China Daily on Wednesday.

CNR won a 4.12 billion yuan ($659 million) contract last year to supply metro cars to Boston’s subway system, the first US rolling stock order with a Chinese company.

“At least part of the metro cars will be assembled locally,” said Yu, who is in charge of the company’s overseas business. The company is exploring more opportunities in cities such as New York and Washington.

CNR also won a contract last year to supply 232 diesel locomotives to South Africa. Yu said the company will establish local manufacturing companies and create jobs for local employees.

Li Wen, deputy general manager of the corporate business department at the Export-Import Bank of China, said on Wednesday that the bank is involved in promoting a group of important railway projects, including a high-speed train project in California. Li said at the end of January that the bank had provided $13 billion in loans to 35 overseas railway equipment export and rail construction projects.

CNR and CSR, China’s major high-speed train manufacturer, have announced a plan to merge to become the world’s largest train manufacturer. Shareholders will vote on the move on March 9.

via High-speed trains steer to overseas destinations[1]-


* India to seek foreign investment in giant, creaking rail network | Reuters

English: A speed board to show train speed lim...

English: A speed board to show train speed limits on the QR rail network in Queensland, Australia. The square/boxed limit is for Tilt Trains; the higher limit is because the Tilt Trains are capable of traveling through curved sections of track at faster speeds while maintaining passenger comfort. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

India will soon invite foreign businesses to help expand its once-mighty but now outdated railways, government sources said, in a move that would mark the opening up of one of the country\’s last great state-controlled industries.

Foreign investors will be allowed to fully own new services in suburban areas, high speed tracks, and connections to ports, mines and power installations, said two senior officials involved in the deliberations.

Existing passenger and freight network operations will not be open to foreign investors under the initiative, which seeks to ease bottlenecks that slow travel on the world\’s fourth-largest rail system.

\”The plan is to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment in suburban corridors, high-speed train systems, freight line projects implemented through public-private partnership,\” said an official at the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion.

via CORRECTED-India to seek foreign investment in giant, creaking rail network | Reuters.

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High-speed railways: Faster than a speeding bullet | The Economist

China’s new rail network, already the world’s longest, will soon stretch considerably farther

THE new high-speed railway line to Urumqi climbs hundreds of metres onto the Tibetan plateau before slicing past the valley where the Dalai Lama was born. It climbs to oxygen-starved altitudes and then descends to the edge of the Gobi desert for a final sprint of several hundred windblown kilometres across a Martian landscape. The line will reach higher than any other bullet-train track in the world and extend what is already by far the world’s longest high-speed rail network by nearly one-fifth compared with its current length. The challenge will be explaining why this particular stretch is necessary.

Record-breaking milestones have become routine in the breathtaking development of high-speed railways in China, known as gaotie. In just five years, since the first one connected Beijing with the nearby port of Tianjin in 2008, high-speed track in service has reached 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles), more than in all of Europe. The network has expanded to link more than 100 cities. In December the last section was opened on the world’s longest gaotie line, stretching 2,400km from Beijing to Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong (see map). The network has confounded some sceptics who believed there would not be enough demand. High-speed trains carry almost 2m people daily, which is about one-third of the total number of rail passengers.


Most of China’s gaotie construction has focused on the country’s densely populated east and centre. The Beijing-Shenzhen line, which is due to be extended into Hong Kong by 2015, links half a dozen provinces and 28 cities. In 2009 work began on the section that will connect the north-west of the country, a line that could hardly be more different from those that criss-cross the booming east. It stretches 1,776km from Lanzhou, the capital of the western province of Gansu, to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, an “autonomous region” bordering on Central Asia. Officials put the cost at 144 billion yuan ($24 billion); cheap perhaps compared with the 400-billion-yuan line from Beijing to Shenzhen, but it traverses such a vast stretch of barely inhabited terrain that land and rehousing costs are negligible.

Officials have given the project the ponderous name of the Lanxin Railway Second Double-Tracked Line. This is to distinguish it from a conventional line from Lanzhou to Xinjiang (the first syllables of which form the name Lanxin) that was completed in 1962. Oddly, however, it does not follow the same route. Instead of heading north from Lanzhou along the old Silk Road through Gansu, it detours into adjacent Qinghai province on the Tibetan plateau and opts for a far tougher route through the snowy Qilian Mountains before re-entering Gansu 480km later and picking up the old trail into Xinjiang.

via High-speed railways: Faster than a speeding bullet | The Economist.


Will China’s economy crash? “After many years of euphoria over China’s rapid growth and the country’s apparently inevitable rise to global economic dominance, the China story has taken a serious turn for the worse. China, it now seems, is about to collapse, and along the way it may well bring the world economy down with it.

China Demolition

Fortunately, the new story may be as muddled as the old one.

China’s economic model has relied heavily on investment and debt. It shouldn’t be a surprise that after many years of tremendous growth driven at first by badly needed investments, Chinese spending on infrastructure and manufacturing capacity is slowing down.

During the same period, debt levels surged as borrowed money poured into more highways, airports, steel mills, shipyards, high-speed railways, and apartment and office buildings than the country could productively use.

Michael Pettis

A few economists predicted as far back as 2006 that China would face a serious debt problem. By 2010, it became obvious even to the most excited of China bulls that this was indeed happening.

To protect itself from the risk of a debt crisis, China must bring spending to a halt. Beijing now wants to rebalance the economy away from its excessive reliance on investment and debt, and to increase the role of consumption as a driver of growth.

But this cannot happen except at lower growth rates.

China debt Fareed’s Take: China’s slowing growth

So what happens next — will China collapse? Probably not. A financial collapse is effectively a kind of bank run, and as long as government credibility remains high, banks are guaranteed and capital controls are maintained, it is unlikely that China will experience anything like a bank run.

What is far more likely is that in the coming years, China’s gross domestic product growth rate will continue to decline as the country focuses on stimulating consumption.

Growth rates during the administration of President Xi Jinping are unlikely to exceed 3% to 4% on average if the economic rebalancing is managed well.

Will the slower growth rate be a disaster for China? Certainly, it would be huge departure from the growth rate of roughly 10% a year for nearly three decades. Would much lower growth rates create high unemployment and huge dislocations for the economy? Some are worried about such scenarios. But the Chinese economy has so far shown a lot of resilience despite passing storms such as the global financial crisis.

Beijing has huge challenges ahead. China’s growth has been a boon to large businesses, the state, the powerful and the wealthy elite. What the Chinese government needs to do is recalibrate growth so that average household incomes can rise and consumers have more money to spend.

This will not be easy to pull off, but there are positive signs. Xi’s government seems determined to make the necessary changes, even at the expense of much slower growth.

Even if GDP growth declines but average Chinese household income grows at 5% to 6% a year, it would put China in the right direction.

As for the rest of the world, there’s no reason to panic over China’s economic slowdown. Contrary to popular beliefs, China is not the global engine of growth; it is merely the largest arithmetic.”

via Opinion: Will China’s economy crash? –


* Ice train begins trial operations

China’s investment in infrastructure continues relentlessly.

China Daily: “Railway built to withstand extreme cold prepares to welcome travelers

A high-speed railway linking major cities in Northeast China began trial operations on Monday, ahead of its launch at the end of the year.

Ice train begins trial operations

The new line, which links Dalian, a port city in Liaoning province and Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, is the world’s first high-speed railway built to withstand extreme cold weather conditions, according to a statement by Harbin railway authorities.

A test train departs from the Dalian North Railway Station, a terminus of the new Harbin-Dalian High-Speed Railway, in Dalian, Nnortheast China’s Liaoning province, Oct 8, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

A test train departed Harbin on Monday morning, arriving in Dalian three-and-a-half hours later. The journey takes nine hours on an ordinary train.

The new line will make 24 stops and connect 10 cities, including the capitals of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.

Construction of the 921-kilometer line began in 2008. It is designed to reach a top speed of 350 kilometers per hour, but will travel initially at a maximum of 300 km/h, railway authorities said.

The line has to withstand extreme temperatures as low as -39.9 C in winter and as high as 40 C in summer, which poses major challenges to the trains and railway construction.

Zhang Xize, chief engineer of the Harbin-Dalian high-speed railway program, said the low temperatures in Northeast China could threaten the roadbed and rail track and ice could also disrupt the power supply and signal system.

“We researched the experiences of high-speed railway line construction in relatively cold areas of Germany and Japan and took reference from road, water conservancy and electric supply projects in frigid areas,” Zhang said.

The railway is fitted with special facilities to remove snow and ice from the line and to protect its power supply systems from the elements.

“We have used all the measures that we can come up with to ensure the safety of this project,” said Zhang.

The line could provide a boost to the tourism industry in Harbin and Dalian, both major vacation destinations.

Harbin is notable for its beautiful ice sculptures in winter and its Russian legacy, and Dalian is well known for its mild climate and multiple beaches.

“The railway comes at the right time as I was planning to take my daughter to see the ice lanterns in Harbin this winter,” said Liu Yan, a 38-year-old resident of Dalian.

The new railway is also expected to ease pressure on the current rail system during peak holiday times.”

via Ice train begins trial operations[1]|


* China to build more high-speed railways

When these plans have been implemented, China will be the only country to have separate passenger and freight lines. That, in theory, should speed up both types of traffic.

China Daily: “China is aiming to build separate passenger and freight networks within its railway system, one of the world’s busiest. It may come true on some bustling lines in 2015, when a high-speed passenger transport network is expected to become fully operational.

According to a five-year plan on China’s transport system recently approved by the State Council, China’s cabinet, China will create a high-speed railway backbone network featuring four east-west lines and four north-south lines by the end of 2015.

The Ministry of Railways said that the total milage of high-speed railway will reach some 18,000 km by then.

China’s high-speed lines, which should have an average speed of over 200 km per hour, stood at 6,894 km in August, fewer than last year as a speed cut was executed after the Wenzhou accident, according to the ministry.

Railway expert Wang Mengshu said that as new high-speed lines open, transportation capacity will be released from conventional lines, which will gradually turn into freight lines.

“Putting passenger and freight on separate tracks will greatly increase traffic volume,” said Wang, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. “The plan indicates that China will continue to develop high-speed trains to address its transportation bottleneck.”

The plan is long-awaited as China’s high-speed railway development has been set back by the Wenzhou collision last July that left 40 dead.

The crash seriously dented China’s enthusiasm for high-speed rail. China halted work on new lines and conducted nationwide safety checks. A total of 54 people, including minister-level officials, were punished following the accident. Local railway bureaus and stations have been ordered to improve train scheduling and management, as well as conduct more intensive work safety training.

A railway ministry report released in July says that signaling and lightning diffusion equipment has been checked and reinforced at more than 1,000 railway stations.

The changes were in response to the two major causes of the Wenzhou accident, management failure and faulty signaling equipment.

via China to build more high-speed railways |Society |


* In China, Sons Fight Railways Ministry Over Crash

NY Times: “Henry Cao has stark memories of the moment the high-speed train he was riding rear-ended another last summer in the eastern city of Wenzhou: the pleasantly hypnotic rocking that gave way to a jolt he likened to an earthquake, followed by blackness and the sensation of falling as the car plummeted 100 feet off a viaduct.

Henry Cao, left, and his brother, Leo, at the site of a train crash that killed their parents and injured Henry in Wenzhou last year.

“We were flying like rag dolls,” he said.

The crash killed 40 passengers, injured 191 and shook the nation’s confidence in its ambitious high-speed rail system. Mr. Cao, 33, a Chinese-American importer from Colorado, barely survived; he lost a kidney and his spleen, and head injuries have left him mired in a perpetual daze, unable to stay awake for more than an hour or two. His parents, naturalized American citizens taking him on a triumphant tour of their native land, were killed.

As Mr. Cao has struggled to recover over the past year, he has found himself drained by a different sort of battle: trying to wrest compensation from the Ministry of Railways, an unbending government behemoth unaccustomed to dealing with determined foreign citizens.

This month Mr. Cao returned to China for the first time since the accident. He and his brother, Leo, came to collect their parents’ remains and to press negotiations with the ministry. “They know how to wear you down,” said Leo Cao, 30. “First they let you scream and yell, then they stall you, and finally they tell you vague and empty words. Now they say, ‘You’re lucky you’re getting anything.’ ”

Their painful and politically fraught odyssey has highlighted the workings of an omnipotent ministry that employs more than two million people and rivals the Chinese military in size and influence. The experience has been disorienting for the Cao brothers, who left China as adolescents two decades ago. “This place is not how I remember it,” said Henry Cao, speaking faintly as his eyes flickered and lost focus. “Everyone is rushing around to make money. Life here is cheap.”

The ministry, which runs its own court system and is largely impervious to oversight, has long been dogged by accusations of corruption. A former rails minister, Liu Zhijun, who was fired five months before the accident, is expected to go on trial next month for charges of taking millions of dollars in bribes and other unnamed “disciplinary violations.”

Zhang Kai, a lawyer who represented a passenger sentenced to three years in prison for slapping a train conductor, described the ministry as a “monster left over from the planned economy era” that resists reform or challenges to its authority. “It is common knowledge that the ministry is responsible for generating maximum profits while supervising itself,” Mr. Zhang said.

In a report released in December, government investigators placed the blame for the Wenzhou accident on flaws in signaling equipment. Investigators say the ministry bypassed safety regulations in its haste to create the world’s largest high-speed railroad network.”

via In China, Sons Fight Railways Ministry Over Crash –


* $77m embezzled from Chinese high-speed rail project

China Daily: “China’s auditing authorities said on Monday that 491 million yuan ($77.84 million) had been embezzled from the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway project. In a report based on an audit conducted between June and September in 2011, the National Audit Office NAO listed some irregular practices in the construction and management of the project. Purchases that were not made through standard bidding involved 849 million yuan, while the cancellation of wind-shielding barriers construction in some sections meant 413 million yuan of purchasing funds was not used, according to the report.”

via $77m embezzled from high-speed rail project|Economy|

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