|High-speed rail in China|
The high-speed rail (HSR) network in China is operated by the China Railway High-speed branch of the national railway operator, China Railway Corporation. The network consists of all commercial train services that have an average speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) or higher. By that measure, China has the world's longest HSR network with about 9,300 km (5,800 mi) of routes in service as of December 2012. The world's longest line opened in China on 25 December 2012. It runs 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles) from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou.
High-speed rail service in China was introduced on April 18, 2007. Daily ridership has grown from 237,000 in 2007 to 1.33 million in 2012, making the Chinese high-speed rail network the busiest in the world. China's high speed rail network consists of upgraded conventional railways, newly built high-speed passenger designated lines (PDLs), and the world's first high-speed commercial magnetic levitation (maglev) line. The country has been undergoing an HSR building boom with generous funding from the Chinese government's economic stimulus program. The network is rapidly expanding and the total network or lines with a design speed of either 300-350km/h (6700km) or 200-250km/h (11300km) is expected to reach a total of 18,000 km (11,000 mi) by the end of 2015.
China's initial high speed trains were imported or built under technology transfer agreements with foreign train-makers including Siemens, Bombardier and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Chinese engineers then re-designed internal train components and built indigenous trains that can reach operational speeds of up to 380 km/h (240 mph).
Currently, China's HSR features much lower ticket prices than similar systems in developed countries, but is still considerably higher than its conventional services. The distance from Beijing to Jinan is about 400km or 250 miles. HSR would cost CNY186 (US$30) and 1 hour 32 minutes, while conventional trains will take 6 hours and cost only CNY75 (US$12). For comparison, Acela trains from Washington DC to New York City covering a slightly shorter distance (230miles) would cost $310 and 2 hour 45 minutes.
The pace of China's high-speed rail expansion slowed sharply in 2011 after the removal of Chinese Railways Minister Liu Zhijun in February pending investigation for corruption and a fatal high-speed railway accident near Wenzhou in July. Concerns about HSR safety, high ticket prices, low ridership, financial sustainability of high speed rail projects and environmental impact have drawn greater scrutiny from the Chinese press.
State planning for China's high speed railway began in the early 1990s. The Ministry of Railways (MOR) submitted a proposal to build a high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai to the National People's Congress in December 1990. At the time, the existing Beijing–Shanghai railway was already reaching capacity, and the proposal was jointly studied by the Science & Technology Commission, State Planning Commission, State Economic & Trade Commission, and the MOR. In December 1994, the State Council commissioned a feasibility study for the line. Policy planners debated the necessity and economic viability of high-speed rail service. Supporters argued that high-speed rail would boost future economic growth. Opponents noted that high-speed rail in other countries were expensive and mostly unprofitable. Overcrowding on existing rail lines, they said, could be solved by expanding capacity through higher speed and frequency of service. In 1995, Premier Li Peng announced that preparatory work on the Beijing Shanghai HSR would begin in the 9th Five Year Plan (1996–2000), but construction was not scheduled until the first decade of the 21st century.
In 1993, commercial train service in China averaged only 48 km/h (30 mph) and was steadily losing market share to airline and highway travel on the country's expanding network of expressways. The MOR focused modernization efforts on increasing the service speed and capacity on existing lines through double-tracking, electrification, improvements in grade (through tunnels and bridges), reductions in turn curvature, and installation of continuous welded rail. Through five rounds of "speed-up" campaigns in April 1997, October 1998, October 2000, November 2001, and April 2004, passenger service on 7,700 km (4,800 mi) of existing tracks was upgraded to reach sub-high speeds of 160 km/h (100 mph).
A notable example is the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway, which in December 1994 became the first line in China to offer sub-high speed service of 160 km/h using domestically produced DF-class diesel locomotives. The line was electrified in 1998, and Swedish-made X 2000 trains increased service speed to 200 km/h (124 mph). After the completion of a third track in 2000 and a fourth in 2007, the line became the first in China to run high-speed passenger and freight service on separate tracks. The completion of the sixth and final round of the "Speed Up" campaigns in April 2007 brought HSR service to more existing lines: 423 km (263 mi) capable of 250 km/h (155 mph) train service and 3,002 km (1,865 mi) capable of 200 km/h (124 mph). In all, travel speed was increased on 22,000 extended km (13,700 extended mi), or one fifth, of the national rail network, and the average speed of a passenger train improved to 70 km/h. The introduction of more non-stop service between large cities also helped to reduce travel time. The non-stop express train from Beijing to Fuzhou shortened travel time from 33.5 to less than 20 hours. In addition to track and scheduling improvements, the MOR also deployed faster CRH series trains. During the Sixth Railway Speed Up Campaign, 52 CRH trainsets (CRH1, CRH2 and CRH5) entered into operation. The new trains reduced travel time between Beijing and Shanghai by two hours to just under 10 hours.
Higher-speed express train service allowed more trains to share the tracks and improved rail transport capacity. But high-speed trains often have to share tracks with heavy freight—in some cases with as little as 5 minutes headway. To attain higher speeds and transport capacity, planners began to consider passenger-dedicated HSR lines on a grand scale.
The development of HSR network in China was initially held up by a debate over the type of track technology. In June 1998, at a State Council meeting with the Chinese Academies of Sciences and Engineering, Premier Zhu Rongji asked whether the high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai still being planned could use maglev technology. At the time, planners were divided between using high-speed trains with wheels that run on conventional standard gauge tracks or magnetic levitation trains that run on special maglev tracks for a new national high-speed rail network.
Maglev received a big boost in 2000 when the Shanghai Municipal Government agreed to purchase a turnkey TransRapid train system from Germany for the 30.5 km (19.0 mi) rail link connecting Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the city. In 2004, the Shanghai Maglev Train became the world's first commercially operated high-speed maglev. It remains the fastest commercial train in the world with peak speeds of 431 km/h (268 mph) and makes the 30.5 km (19.0 mi) in less than 7.5 minutes.
Despite unmatched advantage in speed, the maglev has not gained widespread use in China's high-speed rail network due to high cost, German refusal to share technology and concerns about safety. The price tag of the Shanghai Maglev was believed to be $1.3 billion and was partially financed by the German government. The refusal of the Transrapid Consortium to share technology and source production in China made large-scale maglev production much more costly than high-speed train technology for conventional lines. Finally, residents living along the proposed maglev route have raised health concerns about electromagnetic radiation emitted by the trains. These concerns have prevented construction to begin on the proposed extension of the maglev to Hangzhou. Even the more modest plan to extend the maglev to Shanghai's other airport, Hongqiao, has been stalled. Instead, a conventional subway line was built to connect the two airports, and a conventional high-speed rail line was built between Shanghai and Hangzhou.
While the maglev was drawing attention to Shanghai, conventional track HSR technology was being tested on the newly completed Qinhuangdao-Shenyang (Qinshen) Passenger Railway. This 405 km (252 mi) standard gauge, dual-track, electrified line was built between 1999 and 2003. In June 2002, a domestically made DJF2 train set a record of 292.8 km/h (181.9 mph) on the track. The China Star (DJJ2) train followed the same September with a new record of 321 km/h (199 mph). The line supports commercial train service at speeds of 200–250 km/h, and has become a segment of the rail corridor between Beijing and the Northeast China. The Qinshen Line demonstrates the greater compatibility of HSR on conventional track with the rest of China's standard gauge rail network.
In 2004, the State Council in its Mid-to-Long Term Railway Development Plan, adopted conventional track HSR technology over maglev for the Beijing–Shanghai High Speed Railway and three other north-south high-speed rail lines. This decision ended the debate cleared the way for rapid construction of standard gauge, passenger dedicated HSR lines in China.
Despite setting speed records on test tracks, the DJJ2, DJF2 and other domestically produced high speed trains were insufficiently reliable for commercial operation. The State Council turned to advanced technology abroad but made clear in directives that China's HSR expansion cannot only benefit foreign economies. China's expansion must also be used to develop its own high-speed train building capacity through technology transfers. The State Council, MOR and state-owned train builders, the China North Car (CNR) and China South Car (CSR) used China's large market and competition among foreign train-makers to induce technology transfers.
In 2003, the MOR was believed to favor Japan's Shinkansen technology, especially the 700 series, which was later exported to Taiwan. The Japanese government touted the 40-year track record of the Shinkansen and offered favorable financing. A Japanese report envisioned a winner-take all scenario in which the winning technology provider would supply China's trains for over 8,000 km of high-speed rail. However, Chinese citizens angry with Japan's World War II atrocities organized a web campaign to oppose the awarding of HSR contracts to Japanese companies. The protests gathered over a million signatures and politicized the issue. The MOR delayed the decision, broadened the bidding and adopted a diversified approach to adopting foreign high-speed train technology.
In June 2004, the MOR solicited bids to make 200 high speed train sets that can run 200 km/h. Alstom of France, Siemens of Germany, Bombardier Transportation based in Germany and a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki all submitted bids. With the exception of Siemens which refused to lower its demand of RMB(¥) 350 million per train set and €390 million for the technology transfer, the other three were all awarded portions of the contract. All had to adapt their HSR train-sets to China's own common standard and assemble units through local joint ventures (JV) or cooperate with Chinese manufacturers. Bombardier, through its JV with CSR's Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co (CSR Sifang), Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd (BST). won an order for 40 eight-car train sets based on Bombardier's Regina design. These trains, designated CRH1A, were delivered in 2006. Kawasaki won an order for 60 train sets based on its E2 Series Shinkansen for ¥9.3 billion. Of the 60 train sets, three were directly delivered from Nagoya, Japan, six were kits assembled at CSR Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock, and the remaining 51 were made in China using transferred technology with domestic and imported parts. They are known as CRH2A. Alstom also won an order for 60 train sets based on the New Pendolino developed by Alstom-Ferroviaria in Italy. The order had a similar delivery structure with three shipped directly from Savigliano along with six kits assembled by CNR's Changchun Railway Vehicles, and the rest locally made with transferred technology and some imported parts. Trains with Alstom technology carry the CRH5 designation.
The following year, Siemens reshuffled its bidding team, lowered prices, joined the bidding for 300 km/h trains and won a 60-train set order. It supplied the technology for the CRH3C, based on the ICE3 (class 403) design, to CNR's Tangshan Railway Vehicle Co. Ltd. The transferred technology includes assembly, body, bogie, traction current transforming, traction transformers, traction motors, traction control, brake systems, and train control networks.
Achieving indigenous high-speed rail technology has been a major goal of Chinese state planners. Chinese train-makers, after receiving transferred foreign technology, have been able to achieve a considerable degree of self-sufficiency in making the next generation of high-speed trains by developing indigenous capability to produce key parts and improvising upon foreign designs.
Examples of technology transfer include Mitsubishi Electric’s MT205 traction motor and ATM9 transformer to CSR Zhuzhou Electric, Hitachi’s YJ92A traction motor and Alstom’s YJ87A Traction motor to CNR Yongji Electric, Siemens’ TSG series pantograph to Zhuzhou Gofront Electric. Most of the components of the CRH trains manufactured by Chinese companies were from local suppliers, with only a few parts imported.
For foreign train-makers, technology transfer is an important part of gaining market access in China. Bombardier, the first foreign train-maker to form a joint venture in China, has been sharing technology for the manufacture of railway passenger cars and rolling stock since 1998. Zhang Jianwei, President and Chief Country Representative of Bombardier China, stated that in a 2009 interview, “Whatever technology Bombardier has, whatever the China market needs, there is no need to ask. Bombardier transfers advanced and mature technology to China, which we do not treat as an experimental market.” Unlike other series which have imported prototypes, all CRH1 trains have been assembled at Bombardier’s joint-venture with CSR, Bombardier Sifang in Qingdao.
Kawasaki’s cooperation with CSR did not last as long. Within two years of cooperation with Kawasaki to produce 60 CRH2A sets, CSR began in 2008 to build CRH2B, CRH2C and CRH2E models at its Sifang plant independently without assistance from Kawasaki. According to CSR president Zhang Chenghong, CSR "made the bold move of forming a systemic development platform for high-speed locomotives and further upgrading its design and manufacturing technology. Later, we began to independently develop high-speed CRH trains with a maximum velocity of 300–350 kilometers per hour, which eventually rolled off the production line in December 2007." Since then, CSR has ended its cooperation with Kawasaki. Kawasaki is currently challenging China's high-speed rail project for patent theft.
Between June and September 2005, the Ministry of Railways launched bidding for high speed trains with a top speed of 350 km/h, as most of the main high speed rail lines were designed for top speeds of 350 km/h or higher. Along with CRH3C, produced by Siemens and CNR Tangshan, CSR Sifang bid 60 sets of CRH2C.
In 2007, travel time from Beijing to Shanghai was about 10 hours at a top speed of 200 km/h in the upgrade Beijing–Shanghai Railway. To increase transport capacity, the Ministry of Railways ordered 70 16-car trainsets from CSR Sifang and BST, including 10 sets of CRH1B and 20 sets of CRH2B seating trains, 20 sets of CRH1E and 20 sets of CRH2E sleeper trains.
Construction of the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, the world's first high speed rail with designed speed 380 km/h, began on April 18, 2008. In the same year, the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Railway agreed to a joint action plan for the indigenous innovation of high-speed trains in China. The Railway Ministry then launched the CRH1-350 (Bombardier and BST, designated as CRH380D/DL), CRH2-350 (CSR, designated as CRH380A/AL), and CRH3-350 (CNR and Siemens, designated as CRH380B/BL & CRH380CL), to develop new generation of CRH trains with top operation speed 380 km/h. A total of 400 new generation trains were ordered. CRH380A entered service on the Shanghai-Hangzhou High-Speed Railway on October 26, 2010. The CRH380A is the first indigenous high speed train of the CRH series.
On October 19, 2010, the Ministry of Railways declared the beginning of research and development on "super-speed" railway technology, which would increase the average speed of trains to over 500 kilometers per hour.
As of 2007, the Qinhuangdao-Shenyang High-Speed Railway, which carried trains at top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) along the Liaoxi Corridor in the Northeast, was the only passenger-dedicated HSR line (PDL) in China, but that would soon change as the country embarked on a high-speed railway construction boom. The MOR's “Mid-to-Long Term Railway Network Plan”, revised in 2008, called for the building of a national high-speed rail grid composed of 4 north-south corridors and 4 east-west corridors, which together with upgraded existing lines, would total 12,000 km (7,456 mi) in length. The earliest PDLs built were sections of the corridors that connected large cities in the same region. On April 19, 2008, Hefei–Nanjing PDL in the East opened with a top-speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). On August 1, 2008, the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway opened in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics. This line between northern China’s two largest cities, was the first in the country to accommodate commercial trains with top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph) and featured the CRH2C and CRH3C train sets. The Wuhan–Guangzhou PDL, which opened on December 26, 2009, was the country’s first cross-regional high-speed rail line. With a total length of 968 kilometres (601 mi) and capacity to accommodate trains traveling at 350 km/h (217 mph), the Wuguang PDL set a world record for the fastest commercial train service with average trip speed of 312.5 kilometres per hour (194.2 mph). Train travel between central and southern China’s largest cities, Wuhan and Guangzhou, was reduced to just over three hours. On October 26, 2010, China opened its 15th high speed rail, the Shanghai–Hangzhou line, and unveiled the CRH380A trainset manufactured by CSR Sifang started regular service. The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway, the second major cross-regional line, opened on June 2011 and was the first line designed with a top speed of 380 km/h (236 mph) in commercial service.
By January 2011, China had the world’s longest high-speed rail network with about 8,358 km (5,193 mi) of routes capable for at least 200 km/h (124 mph) running in service including 2,197 km (1,365 mi) of rail lines with top speeds of 350 km/h (217 mph). The MOR reportedly committed investment of ¥709.1 billion (US$107.9 billion) in railway construction in 2010 and would invest ¥700 billion (US$106 billion) in 2011 on 70 railway projects, including 15 high-speed rail projects. Some 4,715 kilometres (2,930 mi) of new high-speed railways would be opened, and by the end of 2011, China would have 13,073 kilometres (8,123 mi) of railways capable for 200+ km/h running, one year ahead of the original schedule. According to China Securities Journal, China plans to invest $451 to $602 billion in its high-speed rail network between 2011 to 2015.
In February 2011, Railway Minister Liu Zhijun, a key proponent of HSR expansion in China, was removed from office on charges of corruption. The Economist estimates Liu accepted ¥1 billion of bribes ($152 million) in connection with railway construction projects. However only 3 million Yuan has been proven so far. Investigators found evidence that another ¥187 million ($28.5 million) was misappropriated from the $33 billion Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway in 2010. Another top official in the Railways Ministry, Zhang Shuguang, was also sacked for corruption. Zhang was estimated to have misappropriated to his personal overseas accounts the equivalent of $2.8 billion.
In April 2011, the new Minister of Railways Sheng Guangzu said that due to corruption, safety may have been compromised on some construction projects and completion dates may have to be pushed back. Sheng announced that all trains in the high speed rail network would operate at a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) beginning on July 1, 2011. This was in response to concerns over safety, low ridership due to high ticket prices, and high energy usage. On June 13, 2011, the Ministry of Railways clarified in a press conference that the speed reduction was not due to safety concerns but to offer more affordable tickets for trains at 250 km/h and increase ridership. Higher speed train travel uses greater energy and imposes more wear on expensive machinery. Railway officials chose to run faster trains at 300 km/h instead of 350 km/h to achieve closer train spacing and greater capacity utilization. Trains on the Beijing-Tianjin high-speed line and a few other inter-city lines would continue to run at a top speed of 350 km/h. In May 2011, China's Environmental Protection Ministry ordered the halting of construction and operation of two high-speed lines that failed to pass environmental impact tests. In June, the Railway Ministry maintained that high-speed rail construction was not slowing down. CRH380A trainsets on the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway can reach a top operational speed of 380 km/h (240 mph) but run at 300 km/h. Under political and public pressure, the National Audit Office (NAO) carried out an extensive investigation into the building quality of all high speed rail lines. As of March 2011, no major quality defects had been found in the system. Foreign manufacturers involved in Shanghai-Beijing high-speed link reported that their contracts call for maximum operational speed of 300 km/h. From July 20, 2011, the frequency of train service from Jinan to Beijing and Tianjin was reduced due to low occupancy, which renewed concerns about demand and profitability for high speed services. Service failures in the first month of operation drove passengers back to pre-existing slower rail service and air travel; airline ticket prices rebounded due to reduced competition.
On July 23, 2011, two high-speed trains collided on the Ningbo–Taizhou–Wenzhou Railway in Lucheng District of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. The accident occurred when one train traveling near Wenzhou was struck by lightning, lost power and stalled. Signals malfunctioned, causing another train to rear-end the stalled train. Several carriages derailed. State-run Chinese media confirmed 40 deaths, and at least 192 people hospitalised, including 12 who were severely injured. The Wenzhou train accident and the lack of accountability by railway officials caused a public uproar and heightened concerns about the safety and management of China's high-speed rail system. Quality and safety concerns also affected plans to export cheaper high speed train technology to other countries.
Following the deadly crash, the Chinese government suspended new railway project approvals and launch safety checks on existing equipment. A commission was formed to investigate the accident with a directive to report its findings in September 2011. On August 10, 2011, the Chinese government announced that it was suspending approvals of any new high-speed rail lines pending the outcome of the investigation. The Minister of Railways announced further cuts in the speed of Chinese high-speed trains, with the speed of the second-tier 'D' trains reduced from 250 km/h (155 mph) to 200 km/h (124 mph). The speed of the remaining 350 km/h trains between Shanghai and Hangzhou was reduced to 300 km/h as of August 28, 2011. To stimulate ridership, on August 16, 2011 ticket prices on high-speed trains were reduced by five percent. From July to September, high-speed rail ridership in China fell by nearly 30 million to 151 million trips.
In the first half of 2011, the MOR as a whole made a profit of ¥4.29 billion and carried a total debt burden of ¥2.09 trillion, equal to about 5% of China’s GDP. Earnings from the more profitable freight lines helped to off-set losses by high-speed rail lines. As of years ending 2008, 2009 and 2010, the MOR's debt-to-asset ratio was respectively, 46.81%, 53.06% and 57.44%, and reached 58.58% by mid-year 2011. As of October 12, 2011, the MOR had issued ¥160 billion of debt for the year. But in the late summer, state banks began to cut back on lending to rail construction projects, which reduced funding for existing railway projects. An investigation of 23 railway construction companies in August 2011 revealed that 70% of existing projects had been slowed or halted mainly due to shortage of funding. Affected lines included Xiamen-Shenzhen, Nanning-Guangzhou, Guiyang-Guangzhou, Shijazhuang-Wuhan, Tianjin-Baoding and Shanghai-Kunming high-speed rail lines. By October, work had halted on the construction of 10,000 km of track. New projects were put on hold and completion dates for existing projects, including the Tianjin-Baoding, Harbin-Jiamusi, Zhengzhou-Xuzhou and Hainan Ring (West), were pushed back. As of October 2011, the MOR was reportedly concentrating remaining resources on fewer high-speed rail lines and shifting emphasis to more economically viable coal transporting heavy rail.
To ease the credit shortage facing rail construction, the Ministry of Finance announced tax cuts to interest earned on rail construction financing bonds and the State Council ordered state banks to renew lending to rail projects. In late October and November 2011, the Ministry of Railways raised RMB 250 billion in fresh financing and construction resumed on several lines including the Tianjin-Baoding, Xiamen-Shenzhen and Shanghai-Kunming.
Another project postponed or cancelled altogether was the proposed Chongqing-Xi'an High-Speed Railway. As it was announced in September 2012, it won't be included into the national railway construction plans, because travel between the two cities can be efficiently enough accomplished by using two other railways that are in the plans, namely the Lanzhou-Chongqing and Xi'an-Chengdu lines, which will cross at Guangyuan in north-eastern Sichuan.
By early 2012, the Chinese government renewed investments in high-speed rail to rejuvenate the slowing economy. Premier Wen Jiabao visited train manufacturers and gave a vote of confidence in the industry. Over the course of the year, the MOR’s budget rose from $64.3 billion to $96.5 billion. Five new lines totaling 2563 km in length entered operation between June 30 and December 31, including the Beijing-Wuhan section of the Beijing-Guangzhou line. By the end of 2012 ridership had exceeded levels prior to the Wenzhou crash, and the number of passengers carried by high-speed lines accounted for 25.7% of total passenger traffic. China's 1,580 high-speed trains were transporting 1.33 million passengers daily. The Beijing–Tianjin, Shanghai–Nanjing, Beijing–Shanghai and Shanghai-Hangzhou lines reported breaking even financially The Shanghai-Nanjing line even reported to be operationally profitable, operating with a 380 million yuan net profit. However the system as a whole is still losing money and concerns about corruption, safety and high ticket prices persist.
China's high speed rail expansion is entirely managed, planned and financed by the government. After committing to conventional-track high speed rail in 2006, the state has embarked on an ambitious campaign to build passenger-dedicated high-speed rail lines, which accounts for a large part of the government's growing budget for rail construction. Total investment in new rail lines grew from $14 billion in 2004 to $22.7 and $26.2 billion in 2006 and 2007. In response to the global economic recession, the government accelerated the pace of HSR expansion to stimulate economic growth. Total investments in new rail lines including HSR reached $49.4 billion in 2008 and $88 billion in 2009. In all, the state plans to spend $300 billion to build a 25,000 km (16,000 mi) HSR network by 2020.
Critics both in China and abroad have questioned the necessity of having an expensive high-speed rail system in a largely developing country, where most workers cannot afford to pay a premium for faster travel. The government has justified the expensive undertaking as promoting a number of policy objectives. HSR provides fast, reliable and comfortable means of transporting large numbers of travelers in a densely populated country over long distances, which:
China's high-speed rail construction projects are highly capital intensive. About 40-50% of financing is provided by the national government through lending by state owned banks and financial institutions, another 40% by the bonds issued by the Ministry of Railway (MOR) and the remaining 10-20% by provincial and local governments. The MOR, through its financing arm, the China Rail Investment Corp, issued an estimated ¥1 trillion (US$150 billion in 2010 dollars) in debt to finance HSR construction from 2006 to 2010, including ¥310 billion in the first 10 months of 2010. CRIC has also raised some capital through equity offerings; in the spring of 2010, CRIC sold a 4.5 percent stake in the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway to the Bank of China for ¥6.6 billion and a 4.537 percent stake to the public for ¥6 billion. CRIC retained 56.2 percent ownership on that line. As of 2010, the CRIC-bonds are considered to be relatively safe investments because they are backed by assets (the railways) and implicitly by the government.
|Table:Construction cost of HSR lines in operation.|
Large construction debt-loads require significant revenues from rider fares, subsidies, and/or other sources of income, such as advertising, to repay. Despite impressive ridership figures, virtually every completed line has incurred losses in its first years of operation. For example, the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway in its two full years of operation, delivered over 41 million rides. The line cost ¥20.42 billion to build, and ¥1.8 billion per annum to operate, including ¥0.6 billion in interest payments on its ¥10 billion of loan obligations. The terms of the loans range from 5–10 years at interest rates of 6.3 to 6.8 percent. In its first year of operation from August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009, the line carried 18.7 million riders and generated ¥1.1 billion in revenues, which resulted in a loss of ¥0.7 billion. In the second year, ridership rose to 22.3 million and revenues improved to ¥1.4 billion, which narrowed losses somewhat to below ¥0.5 billion. To break even, the line must deliver 30 million rides annually. To be able to repay principal, ridership would need to exceed 40 million. As of September 2010, daily ridership averaged 69,000 or an annual rate of 25.2 million. The line has a capacity of delivering 100 million rides annually and initial estimated repayment period of 16 years.
The Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan PDL lost ¥0.8 billion in its first year and is set to lose ¥0.9 billion in 2010. The Southeast HSR corridor lost ¥0.377 billion in its first year beginning August 2009. The Zhengzhou-Xian PDL since opening in February 2010 is expected to generate revenues of ¥0.6 billion in its first full year but must make interest payments of ¥1.1 billion. All of these losses must be covered by the operator, which is usually subsidized by local governments.
The MOR faces a debt-repayment peak in 2014. Some economists recommend further subsidies to lower fares and boost ridership and ultimately revenues. Others warn that the financing side of the existing construction and operation model is unsustainable. If the rail-backed loans cannot be fully repaid, they may be refinanced or the banks may seize ownership of the railways. To prevent that eventuality, the MOR is trying to improve management of its rapidly growing HSR holdings.
China's high-speed rail system project is ambitious and when the major rail lines are completed by 2020, it will become the largest, fastest, and most technologically advanced high-speed railway system in the world. China's Ministry of Railways plans to build 25,000 km (16,000 mi) of high-speed railways with trains reaching speeds of 350 km/h. China invested $50 billion on its high-speed rail system in 2009 and the total construction cost of the high-speed rail system is $300 billion. The main operator of regular high-speed train services in the People's Republic of China is China Railway High-Speed (CRH).
Most of the rail lines in the latter three categories are now under construction.
Following the sixth round of the "railway speed up campaign" on April 18, 2007, some 6,003 extended km of track could carry trains at speeds of up to 200 km/h. Of these, 848 km could attain 250 km/h. These include the Qinhuangdao-Shenyang (Qinshen) Passenger Railway, and sections of the Qingdao-Jinan (Jiaoji), Shanghai-Kunming (Hukun) between Hangzhou and Zhuzhou, Guangzhou-Shenzhen (Guangshen), Beijing–Shanghai (Jinghu), Beijing-Harbin (Jingha), Beijing-Guangzhou (Jingguang), Longhai between Zhengzhou to Xuzhou, Railways. Upgrade work continues on other lines including the Wuhan-Danyang (Handan), Hunan-Guizhou (Xianggui), and Nanjing-Nantong (Ningqi) Railways.
295 stations have been built or renovated to allow high speed trains.
The centerpiece of the Ministry of Railway (MOR)'s expansion into high-speed rail is a new national high-speed rail grid that is overlaid onto the existing railway network. According to the MOR's "Mid-to-Long Term Railway Network Plan" (revised in 2008), this grid is composed of 8 high-speed rail corridors, four running north-south and four going east-west, and has a total of 12,000 km. Most of the new lines follow the routes of existing trunk lines and are designated for passenger travel only. They are known as passenger-designated lines (PDL). Several sections of the national grid, especially along the southeast coastal corridor, were built to link cities that had no previous rail connections. Those sections will carry a mix of passenger and freight, but are sometimes mislabeled as PDLs. High-speed trains on PDLs can generally reach 300–350 km/h. On mixed-use HSR lines, passenger train service can attain peak speeds of 200–250 km/h. This ambitious national grid project was planned to be built by 2020, but the government's stimulus has expedited time-tables considerably for many of the lines.
Operational lines are marked with green background.
|Main HSR corridor of Northeast China||350||1700||2007-08-23|
(Jingshen High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Beijing to Shenyang via Chengde, Fuxin and Chaoyang||350||684||expected
|HSR from Harbin to Dalian via Shenyang & Changchun||350||904||2007-08-23||2012-12-01|
|Connects Yingkou on Harbin–Dalian HSR with Panjin on Qinhuangdao-Shenyang HSR||350||89||2009-05-31||2013-10|
|Main north-south high speed railway of East China||350||1433||2008-01-08||2012-10-16|
|HSR from Beijing to Shanghai via Tianjin, Jinan, Xuzhou, Bengbu and Nanjing||350||1302||2008-04-18||2011-06-30|
|Spur off Jinghu HSR from Bengbu to Hefei||350||131||2008-01-08||2012-10-16|
Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong HSR
|Main north-south high speed rail corridor through North and South Central China||200-
|HSR from Beijing to Shijiazhuang||350||281||2008-10-08||2012-12-26|
|HSR from Shijiazhuang to Zhengzhou||350||838||2008-10-15||2012-12-26|
|HSR from Zhengzhou to Wuhan||2012-09-28|
|HSR from Wuhan to Guangzhou via Changsha||350||968||2005-09-01||2009-12-26|
|Mainland section of the Express Rail Link from Guangzhou to the border of Hong Kong via Shenzhen||350||116||2008-08-20||2011-12-26
|Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link. HSR from the border of Shenzhen to Hong Kong.||200||26||2010||2016|
|Southeast Coastal Corridor from Shanghai to Shenzhen, with plans for a rail bridge across the Hangzhou Bay by 2020.||250-
|High-speed PDL from Hangzhou to Ningbo||350||152||2009-04||2013-07-01|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR line along the coast of Zhejiang Province from Ningbo to Wenzhou via Taizhou.||250||268||2005-10-27||2009-09-28|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR line from Wenzhou to Fuzhou.||250||298||2005-01-08||2009-09-28|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR line along the coast of Fujian Province from Fuzhou to Xiamen via Putian & Quanzhou.||250||275||2005-10-01||2010-04-26|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR line along the coast of Fujian and Guangdong from Xiamen to Shenzhen via Zhangzhou, Shantou & Huizhou.||250||502||2007-11-23||2013|
Operational lines are marked with green background.
|HSR across North China consisting of three segments connecting Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Jinan and Qingdao.||250||873||2005-06-01||2016|
|PDL connecting Qingdao and Jinan||250||364||2007-01-28||2008-12-20|
(Shijiazhuang–Jinan High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Shijiazhuang & Jinan via Dezhou||250||319||expected
(Shijiazhuang–Taiyuan High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Shijiazhuang & Taiyuan.||250||190||2005-06-11||2009-04-01|
(Xulan High-Speed Railway)
|HSR across the Yellow River Valley of central China, consisting of four segments connecting Xuzhou, Zhengzhou, Xian, Baoji and Lanzhou.||350||1363||2005-06-01||2017|
(Zhengzhou–Xuzhou High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Xuzhou & Zhengzhou||350||357||2012-12-26||2016-12|
(Zhengzhou–Xi'an High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Zhengzhou & Xian||350||455||2005-09-01||2010-02-06|
(Xi'an–Baoji High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Xi'an & Baoji||350||148||2009-11-22||2013-06|
(Baoji–Lanzhou High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Baoji & Lanzhou||350||403||2012-10||2017|
|HSR corridor through the Yangtze Valley, consisting of the Shanghai-Nanjing section of the Beijing–Shanghai PDL, and 7 mixed-use HSR segments connecting Nanjing, Hefei, Wuhan, Yichang, Lichuan, Chongqing, Suining & Chengdu.||200-
|High-speed railway connecting Shanghai and Nanjing||350||301||2008-07-01||2010-07-01|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Nanjing & Hefei||250||166||2005-06-11||2008-04-19|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Hefei & Wuhan||250||351||2005-08-01||2009-04-01|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Wuhan & Yichang||250||293||2008-09-17||2012-07-01|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Yichang & Lichuan||200||377||2003-12-01||2010-12-23|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Lichuan & Chongqing||200||264||2008-12-29||2013|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Chongqing & Suining||200||132||2009-01-18||2012–12-31|
|Mixed passenger & freight HSR connecting Suining & Chengdu.||200||148||2005-05||2009-06-30|
(Hukun High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting East, Central and Southwest China. It consists of three sections connecting Shanghai, Hangzhou, Changsha and Kunming.||350||2066||2008-12-28||2014|
(Shanghai–Hangzhou High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Shanghai Hongqiao & Hangzhou East.||350||150||2009-02-26||2010-10-26|
(Hangzhou–Changsha High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Hangzhou & Changsha.||350||926||2009-12-22||2014-03-31|
(Changsha–Kunming High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Changsha & Kunming||350||1175||2010-03-26||2014|
According to the "Mid-to-Long Term Railway Network Plan" (revised in 2008), the MOR plans to build over 40,000 km of railway in order to expand the railway network in western China and to fill gaps in the networks of eastern and central China. Some of these new railways are being built to accommodate speeds of 200~250 km/h for both passengers and freight. These are also considered high-speed rail though they are not part of the national PDL grid or Intercity High Speed Rail.
Operational lines are marked with green background.
|Originally part of the Jingha PDL. An important linkage between Tianjin and Shenyang through Qinhuangdao.||250-350||665||1999||2012|
(Tianjin–Qinhuangdao High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Tianjin & Qinhuangdao.||350||261||2008||2013-08|
(Qinhuangdao–Shenyang High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Qinhuangdao & Shenyang.||250||404||1999||2003-07-01|
|Chengdu–Guangzhou HSR (Chengguang High-Speed Railway)||HSR from the Pearl River Delta to the Sichuan Basin via Guiyang & Guilin.||300–350||1376||2008-10-13||2014|
(Chengdu–Guiyang High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Chengdu & Guiyang via Leshan, Yibin & Bijie.||350||519||2010||2014|
(Guiyang–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway)
|PDL connecting Guiyang & Guangzhou.||300||857||2008-10-13||2014|
|Guangxi Coastal Railway
(Guangxi Coastal Railway Expansion and Reconstruction Project)
|HSR from Nanning to the Guangxi coast via Qinzhou.||250||261||2008-12-11||2013|
(Nanning–Qinzhou High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Nanning to Qinzhou.||250||99||2008-12-11||2013|
(Qinzhou–Fangchenggang High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Qinzhou to Fangchenggang.||250||100||2009-06-23||2013|
(Qinzhou–Beihai High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Qinzhou to Beihai.||250||63||2009-06-23||2013|
|HSR from Hengyang to Liuzhou via Yongzhou & Guilin.||200||498||2008-12-11||2013|
(Datong–Xian High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Datong to Xi'an via Taiyuan.||250||859||2009-12-03||2014|
(Maoming–Zhanjiang High-speed railway)
|HSR from Maoming to Zhanjiang||250||103||2009-09||2013-08|
(Shenzhen-Maoming High-speed railway)
|HSR from Shenzhen to Maoming via Nansha, Zhongshan, Jiangmen & Yangjiang||250||371||2011||2016|
(Tianjin–Baoding High-speed railway)
|HSR from Tianjin to Baoding via Bazhou & Baiyangdian.||250||158||2011-03-18||2013|
(Zhangjiakou–Hohhot High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Zhangjiakou to Hohhot via Ulanqab.||250||286||2011-3||2014|
(Lanzhou-Xinjiang High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Lanzhou to Ürümqi via Xining, Zhangye, Jiuquan, Jiayuguan, Hami & Turpan||300||1776||2010||2014|
(Hefei–Fuzhou High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from the Hefei to Fuzhou via Huangshan, Shangrao & Wuyishan.||250||806||2010-04-27||2014|
(Xi'an–Chengdu High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Xi'an to Chengdu via Hanzhong and Guangyuan.||250||510||2010||2015|
(Chongqing–Lanzhou High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Chongqing to Lanzhou via Nanchong and Guangyuan.||200||832||2009||2015|
(Chongqing–Guizhou High-Speed Railway)
|HSR from Chongqing to Guiyang.||250||345||2010||2015|
(Yunnan–Guangxi High-speed railway)
|HSR from Nanning to Kunming via Bose.||200–250||710||2010-12-27||2016|
|Lines||Length (km)||Design Speed (km/h)||Construction Start Date||Open Date|
|Xiangtang (Nanchang)-Putian (Fuzhou) Railway||604||250||2007-11-23||2013-09-30|
Intercity railways are designed to provide regional high-speed rail service between large cities and metropolitan areas that are generally within the same province. Intercity HSR service speeds range from 200 to 350 km/h.
Construction schedule Operational lines are marked with green background.
|Construction Start Date
|Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway||115||350||2005-04-07||2008-08-01|
|Chengdu–Dujiangyan Intercity Railway||65||220||2008-11-04||2010-05-12|
|Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity Railway||301||350||2008-07-01||2010-07-01|
|Nanchang–Jiujiang Intercity Railway||131||250||2007-06-28||2010-09-20|
|Hainan Eastern Ring Railway||308||250||2007-09-29||2010-12-30|
|Changchun–Jilin Intercity Railway||111||250||2007-05-13||2010-12-30|
|Guangzhou–Zhuhai Intercity Railway (mainline)||117||200||2005-12-18||2011-01-07
|Guangzhou–Zhuhai Intercity Railway (Xinhui branch)||27||200||2005-12-18||2011-01-07|
|Nanjing–Hangzhou Intercity Railway||251||350||2008-12-28||2013-07|
|Jiangyou–Mianyang–Chengdu–Leshan Intercity Railway||319||200||2008-12-30||2013|
|Liuzhou–Nanning Intercity Railway||223||250||2008||2013|
|Wuchang–Xianning Intercity Railway||90||200||2009-03-22||2013|
|Wuhan–Huangshi Intercity Railway||97||200||2009-03-22||2013|
|Wuhan–Huanggang Intercity Railway||66||200||2009-03-22||2013|
|Zhengzhou–Jiaozuo Intercity Railway||69||200||2009-12-29||2013|
|Zhengzhou–Xuchang Intercity Railway||101||200||2009-12-29||2013|
|Zhengzhou–Kaifeng Intercity Railway||50||200||2009-12-29||2013|
|Changsha–Zhuzhou–Xiangtan Intercity Railway||96||200||2010-07-02||2014-07-02|
|Nanjing–Anqing Intercity Railway||257||250||2008-12-28||2014-07|
|Harbin–Qiqihar Intercity Railway||286||250||2008-11-25||2014|
|Hankou–Xiaogan Intercity Railway||61||200||2009-03-22||2014|
|Dongguan–Huizhou Intercity Railway||97||200||2009-05-08||2014|
|Foshan–Zhaoqing Intercity Railway||85||200||2009-09-29||2014|
|Qingdao–Rongcheng Intercity Railway||299||250||2009-11-30||2014|
|Chengdu–Chongqing Intercity Railway||305||300||2009||2014|
|Shenyang–Dandong Intercity Railway||208||350||2010-03-17||2015|
|Dandong–Dalian Intercity Railway||296||200||2010-03-17||2015|
|Chongqing–Wanzhou Intercity Railway||250||350||2009||2016|
|Hainan Western Ring Railway||342||250||2012-10||2016|
|Guangzhou–Foshan Intercity Railway||35||200||2012||2016|
|Beijing–Tangshan Intercity Railway||160||350||2009|
|Hangzhou–Huangshan Intercity Railway||282||250||2013||2016|
China Railways, the MOR's national rail service operator, provides high speed train service called China Railway High-speed (CRH) (中国铁路高速) on upgraded conventional rail lines, national high speed railways and intercity high-speed lines. The CRH's high speed trains are also called "Harmony Express." In October 2010, CRH service more than 1,000 trains per day, with a daily ridership of about 925,000. as of January, 2011, a total of 495 CRH trainsets were put in to use.
|Ridership of CRH service||61.21||127.73||179.58||290.54||440||486|
As of September 2010, there were 2,876 kilometres (1,787 mi) of upgraded conventional railways in China that can accommodate trains running speeds of 200 to 250 km/h. Over time with the completion of the national high-speed passenger-dedicated rail network, more CRH service will shift from these lines to the high-speed dedicated lines.
B. Long-haul service (typically, listed in schedules as G-series or D-series trains):
|Table:HSR service on conventional rail lines|
|The table belows lists the upgraded conventional railways that run 10 or more CRH high speed trains per day.
|Table:CRH service on high-speed rail lines|
|The following table lists the frequency of CRH service on 14 HSR lines (as of February, 2011). In some cases, CRH trains must still share the HSR lines with slower, non-high speed trains, which are not listed in the table. Note China's first HSR, the Qinshen PDL service as part of the Jingha Railway.
Unlike the "conventional" (non-CRH trains), which run round the clock, most high-speed rail lines operations shut down each night. (See e.g. schedules for Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station; as of mid-December 2012, the first train of the day to leave the station is the 06:33 train to Wuhan, and the last one is the 21:10 trains to Nanjing, which arrives there before 23:00.). While there are several sleeper EMU trainsets (abbreviated 动卧, dongwo) in existence, the overnight service is mostly limited to a few night trains between Shanghai and Beijing. With the schedule change planned for 2012-12-21, some of these trainsets will be re-purposed to also provide overnight high-speed service between Shanghai and Xi'an North.
Elsewhere, the fastest overnight rail service available is provided by fairly fast, but "conventional" (not CRH) Z-series trains. Some of them also use certain sections of the high-speed rail network; e.g., the planned Shanghai-Chengdu train Z122/3 will use the Huhanrong Line from Nanjing to Wuhan.
China Railway High-speed runs different electric multiple unit (trainsets), the designs of which all are imported from other nations and given the designations CRH-1 through CRH-5. CRH trainsets are intended to provide fast and convenient travel between cities. Some of the trainsets are manufactured locally through technology transfer, a key requirement for China. The signalling, track and support structures, control software and station design are developed domestically with foreign elements as well, so the system as a whole could be called Chinese. China currently holds many new patents related to the internal components of these train sets since they have re-designed major components so the trains can run at a much higher speed than the original foreign train design.
CRH1A, B,E, CRH2A, B,E, and CRH5A are designed for a maximum operating speed (MOR) of 200 km/h and can reach up to 250 km/h. CRH3C and CRH2C designs have an MOR of 300 km/h, and can reach up to 350 km/h, with a top testing speed more than 380 km/h. However, in practical terms, issues such as cost of maintenance, comfort, cost and safety make the maximum design speed of more than 380 km/h impractical and remain limiting factors.
|Equipment type||Top speed in test||Designed speed||Seating capacity||Formation||Power
(under 25 kV)
|CRH1A||278 km/h (173 mph)||250||668 or 611 or 645||5M3T||5,300 kW||2007|
|CRH1B||292 km/h (181 mph)||250||1299||10M6T||11,000 kW||2009|
|CRH1E||250||618 or 642||10M6T||11,000 kW||2009|
|CRH2A||282 km/h (175 mph)||250||610 or 588||4M4T||4,800 kW||2007|
|CRH2B||275 km/h (171 mph)||250||1230||8M8T||9,600 kW||2008|
|CRH2C Stage 1||394.2 km/h (244.9 mph)||300||610||6M2T||7,200 kW||2008|
|CRH2C Stage 2||350||610||6M2T||8,760 kW||2010|
|CRH3C||394.3 km/h (245.0 mph)||350||600 or 556||4M4T||8,800 kW||2008|
|CRH5A||250||622 or 586 or 570||5M3T||5,500 kW||2007|
|CRH380A||416.6 km/h (258.9 mph)||380||494||6M2T||9,600 kW||2010|
|CRH380AL||486.1 km/h (302.0 mph)||380||1027||14M2T||20,440 kW||2010|
|CRH380B||380||unknown||4M4T||9,200 kW||2011 (plan)|
|CRH380BL||487.3 km/h (302.8 mph)||380||1004||8M8T||18,400 kW||2010|
|CRH380CL||380||8M8T||19,200 kW||2012 (plan)|
|CRH380D||380||495||4M4T||10,000 kW||2012 (plan)|
|CRH380DL||380||1013||8M8T||20,000 kW||Canceled (2012 original plan)|
|Table:CRH trainset orders|
|Table:CRH trainset deliveries|
|Based on data published by Sinolink Securities, some small changes were made according to the most recent news.
Many of the Passenger Designated Lines use ballastless tracks, which allow for smoother train rides at high speeds and can withstand heavy use without warping. The ballastless track technology, imported from Germany, carries higher upfront costs but can reduce maintenance costs.
Typical application of track technology in China high speed lines
|CRTSIs||slab track||RTRI, Japan||Hada PDL|
|CRTSIIs||slab track||Max Bögl, Germany||Jingjin ICL|
|CRTSIIIs||slab track||CRCC,China||Chengguan PDL|
|CRTSIb||ballastless track||Rail.one, Germany||Wuguang PDL|
|CRTSIIb||ballastless track||Züblin, Germany||Zhengxi PDL|
Chinese train-makers and rail builders have signed agreements to build HSRs in Turkey, Venezuela and Argentina and are bidding on HSR projects in the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil (São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro) and Myanmar, and other countries. They are competing directly with the established European and Japanese manufacturers, and sometimes partnering with them. In Saudi Arabia's Haramain High Speed Rail Project, Alstom partnered with China Railway Construction Corp. to win the contract to build phase I of the Mecca to Medina HSR line, and Siemens has joined CSR to bid on phase II. China is also competing with Japan, Germany, South Korea, Spain, France and Italy to bid for California's high-speed rail line project, which would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles. In November 2009, the MOR signed preliminary agreements with the state's high speed rail authority and General Electric (GE) under which China would license technology, provide financing and furnish up to 20 percent of the parts with the remaining sourced from American suppliers, and final assembly of the rolling stock in the United States.
China has the world's only maglev high-speed train line in operation: The Shanghai Maglev Train, a turnkey Transrapid maglev demonstration line 30.5 km long. The trains have a top operational speed of 430 km/h and can reach a top non-commercial speed of 501 km/h. It has shuttled passengers between Shanghai's Longyang Road Metro Station and Shanghai Pudong International Airport since March, 2004. Service was briefly interrupted by an electrical fire in 2006. Shanghai authorities have been trying without success to extend the 30.5 km maglev line. An intercity link with Hangzhou was approved by the central government in 2006, but construction has been postponed. Work on a shorter extension to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is also stalled.
The "fastest" train commercial service can be defined alternatively by a train's top speed or average trip speed.
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