Faster trains to be developed
Updated: 2012-04-20 08:02
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Sustainability key to high-speed rail technology, expert says
China will work to further improve technologies to develop faster high-speed trains and enhance safety and efficiency, according to a document released by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Wednesday.
The special plan, drafted for the country's high-speed train technology development during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, included efforts to improve intelligent and energy-saving technologies for high-speed trains.
It also included efforts to develop a combination of various-speed high-speed trains for export.
"The country will finish construction on 16,000 km of high-speed railways by 2020 ... How to achieve sustainability in the high-speed railway sector is a big challenge for China," the plan said.
It added that China will research and develop "smart trains", which use intelligent technology that will allow trains' speed control, condition determination and fault detection operations to be performed digitally.
It also set a target for doing research and making innovations in the permanent magnetic motor technology for the train's power system. High-speed trains' power system currently relies on an alternating current.
"Permanent magnetic motors will consume less energy and improve trains' reliability, which is a trend in the research on high-speed trains," said Jia Limin, professor at Beijing Jiaotong University and major compiler of the plan.
Qingdao Sifang Co under China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation, the country's major train maker, is researching the permanent magnetic motor.
Wu Qunliang, a publicity official with CSR Qingdao Sifang, said there is no specific schedule for when the permanent magnetic motor will be used in a high-speed train. He denied a Beijing News report on Thursday that said the first high-speed train with a permanent magnetic motor will roll off the line next year.
The company is also developing a 500 km/h experimental train. Wu said that the train has reached 575 km/h in lab tests.
CSR Chairman Zhao Xiaogang has said that the experimental train is not intended for commercial use, but to help improve trains' safety and intelligence level.
Jia also said speed is not what China is seeking.
"The pursuit for train speed never ends. What counts is the sustainability of the high-speed rail technology. This plan makes sure China's high-speed rail technology can develop in a sustainable way through continuous innovation with emphasis," Jia said.
"If the plan works, these technologies (to keep a sustainable development of high-speed railways) will be fully owned by China. We will no longer be confined by others (when exporting high-speed trains)," he said.
China bought high-speed train technologies from Germany, Japan and France between 1990 and 2007.
Yang Hao, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University who specializes in railway, said that China's strategy is to learn the best technologies from each of the three countries, and try to incorporate them into its high-speed railway system.
"Now it is the time to improve the system through innovation on our own," he said.
No other countries can provide what China needs in the high-speed railway sector, as high-speed trains here run for more than 1,000 km, he said, adding that by the end of the year - when the new Beijing-Guangzhou line opens - trains will run for some 2,000 km.
"No other countries' high-speed rail network will face problems brought by the long-distance operation. How to forecast, monitor and prevent natural disasters' impact on high-speed trains is another difficulty for China," he said.