Last modified on 2 November 2013, at 12:41

Transportation Planning Casebook/China High-Speed Rail

Summary

A universal definition of High-speed railroad (HSR) does not exist. Different regions in the world have different ways to define high speed rail in terms of its operating speed. For example, the common North America practice considers high speed rail to run over 180 km/h, or 110 mph while the Asian and European countries generally categorize trains that have a top operating speed of 200 km/h (125 mph) or more as high speed rail. Because of its high speed, high operation frequency, high capacity, environmental-friendliness and potential social benefits especially in highly dense areas, high speed rail technology is very popular across the world. Having seen the success of the high speed rail in other countries, the Chinese government decided to develop its own high speed rail technology and network in order to mitigate its existing intercity traffic problem. It plans to spend $300 billion on high speed rail development by the year of 2020, one of the largest infrastructure development expenditures ever in the world.[1] Aggressive government proposals to raise the speed of rail travel include upgrading high speed rail tracks and build new HSR track have been followed by massive deployment resulting in an exponential growth of the higher speed track system as well as an increase in average rail travel speeds across the country.

Only a decade after pursuing HSR technology and infrastructure, the Chinese’ set the world speed record and are now aggressively seeking to export its technology to other parts of the world. Such glorious success has wowed the world. Chinese HSR success is often used to support the development of high speed rail in the United States. However, the success in terms of rapid development in high speed rail technology and expansion of the high speed rail network in China has come with great problems. By skipping technology mastery and going straight to rapid deployment, questions have been raised in terms of the financial justification for the project which resulted in huge deficit for the Ministry of Railway and safety and environmental concerns. The Wenzhou crash, in which dozens died, has raised great concerns for safety and the policy issues surrounding the rapid progress.


Additional Readings


Timeline

  • December 1990: The Ministry of Railways (MOR) submitted a proposal to build a high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai to the Nantional People’s Congress. It was the first time the high speed rail was proposed as an option for intercity transportation. [2]
  • December 1994: The State Council commissioned a feasibility study for the line.[2]Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway became the first line in China to offer sub-high speed service of 160 km/h using domestically-produced DF-class diesel locomotives during the “Speed Up Campaign”.
  • 1995: Premier Li Peng announced that preparatory work on the Beijing Shanghai HSR would begin in the 9th Five Year Plan (1996-2000). Construction was not scheduled.
  • 1998: Guangzhou-Shenzhen line was electrified and by introducing Swedish-made X 2000 trains, the service speed increased to 200km/h.
  • Oct. 12th, 2003: Qinshen Railroad started operation as the first passenger only railroad line in China. The line featured the “China Star” electrified locomotive with a designed speed of 200km/h and a top speed of 300km/h. The MOR discontinued developing the China Star because of its technological flaws.[3]
  • 2004: Shanghai Maglev Train connecting the Pudong Airport and Shanghai’s central business district opened. Its top speed reached 431 km/h (268 mph). Although it is a mature and efficient technology, the maglev has not gained widespread use in the world because of its high cost and concerns for safety.
  • June 2004: The MOR accepted bids from Alstom of France, Bombardier Transportation of Germany, and Kawasaki of Japan for 200 high speed train sets with top speed of 200 km/h with the terms of technology transfer.[4]
  • June to September 2005: The MOR bought train sets with a top speed of 350km/h.
  • 2006: The State Council in its Mid-to-Long Term Railway Development Plan, adopted conventional track HSR technology over maglev. This decision enabled rapid construction of standard gauge, passenger dedicated HSR lines in China.
  • April 2007: The high speed rail system upgraded to more that 423 km (263 mi) of tracks capable of supporting 250 km/h (155 mph) train service and 3,002 km (1,865 mi) of tracks capable of supporting 200 km/h (124 mph) as a result of the Speed Up Campaign.[5]
  • 2008: The first high speed rail with an operating speed over 300 km/h connecting Beijing and Tianjing was completed.
  • April 18th 2008: The high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai was the world’s first high speed rail with a 380km/h designed speed. And the MOR decided to develop new trains that can operate at that level.
  • Jan. 2011: 13 high speed rails have been built so far with a total length of 8358 km. [3]
  • April 2011: The new Minister of Railways, Sheng Guangzu, announced delay of some current construction projects and speed reductions due to concerns for corruption, safety, financial sustainability and environmental impact.[6]
  • July 23rd, 2011: Wenzhou Train accident occurred where two high speed trains crashed. Over 30 deaths have been confirmed with hundreds injured.
  • August 2011: The Chinese government announced suspending approvals of any new high-speed rail lines and enforced further speed reductions of 50 km/h. A 5 percent ticket price cut was implemented in order to stimulate ridership.[7]


Narrative

History

Because of the Qing Dynasty’s closed-door policy, the technology development in China was rather slow. The introduction of western advanced technology to China, including guns, the steam engine and the railroad happened during and after the First Opium War, when the British Empire successfully invaded China in 1840. The first railroad in China, the 14.5 km Wusong Railroad in Shanghai was built by the British Empire in 1875. [3] This technology transfer enabled China to skip years of development and go directly into deployment. However, frequent wars and other external conflicts Chinese kept rail development slow until the 21st century. Since 2000, China has committed to a vast network of high speed rail. The outcome thus far is both fascinating and questionable.

Intercity Travel Modes

China, with the worlds largest population of over 1.3 billion people, has suffered from serious congestion problems in all areas of transportation including intercity travels. The existing major intercity travel modes include: private cars, long-distance buses, trains and airplane, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The private vehicle industry in China is currently booming; however, cars are still considered a luxury for most Chinese. Despite the comfort and convenience they provide, cars pose concerns for cost and sustainability. Traffic congestion problems have become increasingly severe in China with the skyrocketing growth in car sales, which made car traveling less appealing. Besides, they are not suited for long distance travel. Buses are cheaper but their low speeds make them not suited for long distance travel either. Airplanes are the best long distance travel mode in terms of speed and comfort. Yet plane tickets are generally quite expensive and delays are frequent in the nationalized Chinese airline industry where there isn’t much competition. In comparison, trains, especially the high speed rail, have distinct advantages. The high speed rail is usually considered a direct competitor to plane travel. It is comfortable, cheaper, reliable and fast, though not as fast as the airplane. Additionally, airports are usually built a long distance from the city center whereas train stations are usually within the city center. When considering the time it takes to get to the airport versus a train station, the speed advantage of airplane travel may not be that significant.

High Speed Rail

China Current Railroad Network

Since China has a centralized planning regime, all the discussion and debate about the adoption of high speed rail was done by the government without much public participation. Details and information of the policy justification are not available to the public. The government only announces general comments on the benefits of the high speed rail technology including economic productivity and competitive improvements, job creation, urban center growth, energy saving and environmental sustainability. Since 2006, China has invested huge amounts of money on conventional-track high speed rail. Total investment in new rail lines almost doubled from $14 billion in 2004 to $22.7 billion and $26.2 billion in 2006 and 2007 respectively. During the global economic recession from late 2007, the government accelerated high speed rail construction aiming to stimulate the economy. Total investments increased exponentially to $49.4 billion in 2008 and $88 billion in 2009. [8] More investments will be made to high speed rail in the next 10 years. The entire current network is shown in the picture.

Wenzhou Crash

Who:

  • Over a thousand passengers were estimated to be onboard the two trains, including at least two Americans.

What:

  • High speed train rear ends another high speed train.
“The trains that crashed are technically not part of the high-speed rail network that China has been aggressively building out across the country, but they are said to be the first generation of high-speed technology adopted by the Chinese” [9]
  • 6 cars derailed and 4 fell off viaduct (approximately 65 to 100 ft high)
“two cars from the first train and four cars from the second” [9]
  • “39” died and 210 injured (although numbers are criticized by the public since the Chinese government has skewed the numbers in past disasters to minimize their required response procedures)

Where:

  • Wenzhou China, approximately 300 miles south of Shanghai

When:

  • Saturday, July 23, 2011 around 8:37 PM

Why:

  • Signal system malfunction
  • The signal failed to turn red to alert the 2nd train that the 1st train was still in the way.
  • The first explanation that was published stated lighting struck the 1st train causing it to lose power, but the train was actually moving when the collision occurred disproving this implausible event.
This exemplifies the lack of available knowledge in Chinese media and demonstrates the government’s unwillingness to do a robust investigation of the crash scene.

How:

  • “Jiang Xiaomei, identified as the manager of the train that was struck from behind, was quoted by a state-run newspaper as saying that a thunderstorm had forced her train to slow down and to wait about 20 minutes at its previous station. Six minutes after her train left the station, she said, it slowly came to a stop on the tracks and paused for five or six minutes. It had just started moving again when the other train plowed into it”.[10]

Aftermath

The Wenzhou crash was just one of many public transportation accidents that happen in 2011. An overloaded bus caught fire in Henan Province and killed 41 people.[10] In early July, an escalator collapsed killing one and injuring 28 at a new subway station in Beijing. Several bridges have been collapsing in various Chinese cities. In September, two subway trains collided in Shanghai, injuring 270 people. The speed of the collision was low enough to prevent any deaths and the cause of the collision is blamed on human error and faulty signaling.[9] The number of accidents this year is making many people wonder if the public transportation system is safe to use.

There is an increasing public outcry from the public to urge the Railway Ministry to rethink their transportation deployment strategy. Many people are demanding for “no development without safety” on internet websites like People’s Daily.[11] The Wenzhou crash happened just four years after the first high speed trains began operating in China. “Rail experts had warned against the rush to build the world's longest and fastest high-speed rail network in record time amid safety concerns. There are allegations that corners were cut during construction because of corruption, raising questions about infrastructure across the country".[10] China had hopes of selling trains abroad to countries starting high speed rail systems like the United States in an attempt to become the world’s leading high-tech rail exporter. Since the crash, shares in the technology have greatly decreased as many people are now unsure of the safety in the Chinese rail technology.


Key Stakeholders

Proponents

  • Chinese National Government
The government is the biggest contributor for instigating and expanding the national high speed rail network. The government values their system as a national emblem for the advancement of China over the past decades as it hopes to gain better world attention. President Hu Jintao perceives the high speed rail network as a top priority for China.
  • Ministry of Railways
The organization in charge of construction and operation of China's railroads and high speed trains. The organization is considered dysfunctional by many as several leaders have been fired for corruptive behaviors. Sheng Guangzu is the current rail minister after his predecessor was fired last year.
  • Public
Most people are excited to have new rail lines as this will save them time and money by reducing travel times and adding more competitive modes of transportation other than flying and driving.

Opponents

  • Safety Activists
After several recent transportation mishaps, a growing number of people are urging for safer trains instead of faster trains. They have concerns that the Government is compromising public safety in order to rapidly expand the network to gain a better global status.
  • Crash victims
The victims are upset at how the Government responded to the Wenzhou crash. More lives potentially could have been saved if the recovery effort was longer and train cars not buried. Many people are dissatisfied with the investigation procedure and some of the victim's families are turning down compensation.
  • Low wage workers
Not everyone can afford the fares and will never ride the high speed trains. The lower class is upset at the enormous government funding going to something they never will use.


Policy Issues

Planning

Safety of China's High Speed Rail System

Many of the Chinese high speed trains are modeled after the Japenese bullet trains. The Japanese Shinkansen (bullet train) has been operating since 1964 and has no deaths as result of derailments or crashes.[12] The Wenzhou crash raises suspicion that Chinese Government sacrificed safety and adequate operator training in order to rapidly build its HSR infrastructure.[13] HSR systems have failed before, including the French TGV trains. In most cases, the trains were able to safely stop without any fatalities. Some comparisons to other crashes can be made to the Wenzhou crash.

In 1998, the German ICE train derailed and jackknifed into a bridge near Eschede killing over a hundred people.[13] The train was part of the first generation ICE1 fleet that began operation in 1991. An investigation determined that metal fatigue in one of the wheels caused the derailment when going through a switch. The train was traveling at 200 km/h which was a safe operational speed for the tracks and was less than the top speed of 250km/h that the train could reach. In other rail disasters excessive speed was the primary cause. Even though the train was not speeding, the speed contributed to the level of damage.

In 2006, a Transrapid maglev train gliding above a track, supported and propelled by magnetic repulsion, collided with a maintenance vehicle near Lathen, Germany. This accident happened on the Emsland test track during trial runs.[14] The impact occurred while traveling close to 200 km/h and killed 23 people, many of them were Transrapid employees. The primary cause was human error as the maintenance crew failed to call the dispatcher when the work was finished. There was no electronic system in place to inhibit the operation of the maglev while maintenance was being performed and safety policies were not being adhered to on the test track. Maglev trains are considered impossible to derail as the cars wrap around and underneath the guiderail. The Lathen crash reinforced this notation as the train stayed on the guiderail and did not fall off the 4m high viaduct. The Lathen crash was a major setback for the deployment of maglev technology. Consequently, only one commercially used maglev system exists, and it is in Shanghai, China.

The response to the crashes is key to evaluating the effectiveness of the management of the high speed rail network. After the Eschede disaster, every car in the ICE1 fleet was inspected and no other wheel damage was found.[13] The Lathen crash taught designs to adhere to safety procedures even when running on a test track. At this point, it is unclear if the Ministry of Railway has re-inspected every similar signal device being used throughout the Chinese network, and the speedy clean up shows a higher priority for keeping its designs secret and operation schedule punctual than to perform a full investigation of the crash scene. Both the German and Chinese high speed rail systems had deadly accidents within the first decade of service, indicating that new systems come with imperfections. Perfectly safe trains are probably a fantasy, so it is important to be proactive and have emergency and safety policies in place before disaster strikes rather than creating them as an afterthought. China currently has 36% of the world’s high speed track by length and will triple its size in the near future bringing the total close to 60%.[15] Basic probability predicts the next high speed rail crash will be in China. This indicates the necessity for China to have plans in place in order to respond effectively to future disasters. Perhaps the best thing China can do to improve its system is to postpone construction and rethink safety. Furthermore, the major disaster in Wenzhou may facilitate greater consideration and development of maglev technology in China and the world.

Technology & Design

HSR equipment in Japan, Germany and France has been tested and trusted for several decades whereas the Chinese system has largely come online within the last decade. Although indigenous HSR technology has been a major goal of the Chinese government since they began building the network, they still look to foreign design for help. Initially the Chinese Ministry of Railways wanted to solely use the extremely successful Shinkansen technology in Japan but have instead adopted a diverse approach to incorporate foreign HSR technology. Through a bidding process in 2004 China agreed to purchase a cumulative total of 200 train-sets from Alstom of France, Bombardier Transportation based in Germany and a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki.[16] Some of the train-sets were delivered to China completely assembled by the companies, some were delivered in parts and assembled in China, while still others were built in China using transferred technology, domestic and imported parts, the rest locally made with transferred technology and some imported parts.[17]

Bombardier Transportation, the first foreign train maker to do business with China back in 1998, continues to share passenger car and rolling stock manufacturing technology today. Chinese relations with other companies such as Kawasaki have not gone so well. Shortly following a 2006 agreement in which Kawasaki delivered 60 CRH2A train-sets, China began building CRH2B, CRH2C, and CRH2E models independently at its Sifang plant.[18]

The signaling systems, designed to prevent train collisions, were also imported. Consequently, local engineers don’t completely understand the inner workings of the systems, according to a review of corporate documents and interviews with rail executives inside and outside China.[19] Even though a major manufacturer of key signaling systems is Beijing based Hollysys Automation Technologies Ltd, its products are still not free from fault. Hollysys products integrate foreign built components, several of which contain tailor-made circuitry built to Hollysys specifications by companies such as Hitachi Ltd in Japan.[19] Fearful that Chinese technicians might reverse engineer and steal their technology, Hitachi sold components with inner workings concealed from Hollysys.[19] Hitachi executives say this “black box” design makes gear harder to copy, and also harder to understand, for instance during testing.[19] “Black box” components make it extremely difficult to accurately sync systems and troubleshoot when then fail. This is especially troubling knowing the signaling system is essentially the brain which is supposed to anticipate and protect against problems.

Funding

Because China has a single party communist government, funding for the China HSR system is quite different from funding for other similar systems around the world. In China, major infrastructure is largely the result of major government investment. In the case of the HSR system, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) loaned 1 trillion RNB (US $150 billion in 2010 dollars) from state owned banks and financial institutions. This investment was only to finance HSR construction from 2006 to 2010.[20] The China Real Estate Information Corporation also contributed by selling some of stake in the Beijing-Shanghai HSR to the Bank of China.[20]

Huge investments like this are possible in China because the government does not have to convince anyone or provide translucent reasoning behind their route choices. They just build it. HSR lines are quickly constructed primarily to serve the public, in turn pushing initial estimated repayment periods further down the list of concerns. Despite impressive ridership numbers, nearly all HSR lines built in China incur loses within their first couple years of operation.[20] Meaning the revenue generated from fares does not even cover operating costs. For example, the Beijing-Shanghai HSR line took 20.42 billion RNB to build and an additional 1.8 billion RNB operating cost per year.[20] Despite delivering 18.7 million riders in 2008 to 2009, the line lost 0.7 billion RNB.[20] Ridership rose to 22.3 million rides in its second year of operation but it still ended up 0.5 billion RNB in the red.[20] In order to just break even on operating costs alone, the line must deliver 30 million rides every year.[20] To repay the initial capital costs would require ridership to exceed 40 million.[20] The line has the capacity to accommodate 100 million rides per year and the initial estimated full repayment period was 16 years.

Ridership and fare price are inversely related. Therefore some economists suggest further subsidizing fare price to entice more riders to use the system, generating greater revenues. However, others argue financing that heavily is unsustainable and will lead to greater national debt.[20]

Exportation Aspirations

Quick development and deployment has become the national model of china in hopes of ushering in an era of Chinese HSR exportation worldwide. Government propaganda has touted their HSR network as, “fast, low cost, and large, both a symbol of national pride and a miracle to the rest of the world.” [21] Until the Wenzhou crash, China seemed poised to achieve that goal. For example, China conducted 13 billion RNB in sales of rail equipment overseas in 2010. [22] Official media say more than 50 countries and regions currently use China-made locomotives, high-speed trains and their components. [21] Additionally, China has signed “bilateral rail cooperation” agreements with more than 30 countries, including the United States. [21] Despite these agreements, the crash and unstable performance may dramatically weaken China’s export push and credibility as a world leader in HSR technology. Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo, made the bold prediction that China’s chances of selling high-speed trains are now “zero,” saying “I don’t think they can ever get confidence back.” [21]

Concerns over safety have not only tainted international desire for China HSR technology but domestic investors have become wary as well. Stock in the company that manufactured the trains that collided, CSR Group, dropped 14 percent. The sharpest drop in the past three years. [22] In the same day, mainland shares in HSR-related stock dropped 31.6 billion RNB, bringing huge loses to project investors. [22]

Economic comparison with Japan

In 1949 the Japanese National Railways organized the rail lines into a state-owned corporation. A direct success of the merger was the inauguration of the Shinkansen HSR service. [18] Merging the 17 previously private railways allowed the rail network to quickly and efficiently expand, but expansion came at a price. JNR was pulled further and further into dept and had to increase loaning to fund massive capital projects. By 1987, JNR’s dept was 27 trillion Yen ($280 billion at 2009 exchange rates) and the company was spending 147 Yen for every 100 Yen earned. [18] Later that year, an act signed by the Diet of Japan divided the JNR into several companies collectively called the Japan Railways Group (JR Group). [18] Now six private companies control operating passenger lines in six separate regions and the Japan Freight Railway Company operates nationwide. As a result, the passenger rail sector has increased its profitability, and technological advances such as tilting carriages have allowed for greater system efficiency. Future safety concerns or extensive maintenance expenses may cause the Chinese government to consider privatization as a way to preserve their huge national infrastructure.

Environmental Impacts

Many of China’s high speed rail lines have been built on upgraded existing railroad lines, minimizing the environmental impact. New lines incorporate elevated rail on viaducts to avoid intense disturbance of protected wetlands and ecosystems and reduce deforestation. Most documents regarding environmental studies are not in the public domain as the Chinese Government has not published the information. China’s railways have reduced emissions by using electricity instead of coal to power their locomotives. However, that doesn't mean coal isn't still used to generate the electricity.

Changes in Energy Consumption Structure of China Railway[23]

Item 1981-1985 2001-2005 2006 2007 2008
Raw Coal 89% 27% 21% 20% 19%
Fuel Oil 8% 39% 38% 35% 34%
Electricity 3% 34% 41% 45% 47%


Government response to Wenzhou crash

The July 23rd crash was the first major mishap since the Chinese government began funding the monumental HSR network in 2007. Shortly after the crash, the President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiaboa called for an all-out effort to rescue passengers. [24] Train operations on the line were suspended as infrastructure was repaired. Railway officials inspected the trains as several emergency crews from nearby hospitals searched for the injured and the dead. China’s Railway Minister, Sheng Guangzu, visited the scene on the 24th and ordered an investigation of the accident.

However, less than a day after the crash, seven excavators began crushing the train cars and digging a hole to bury them in. During the three hours the front car was being buried, there were no sign of railway officials or experts of any kind entered the cockpit to investigate the cause of the accident.[25] Normally, an inspection of the technical and sensitive instruments is a key part of the investigation but was seemingly forgone in this instance. A source in Japan that investigates train accidents said, "Investigative agencies in China are not very independent, and I have heard that in many cases they are influenced by what the government wants done." [25] A railway official on site said, “the investigation was completed,” by the time the crushing and burying began. [25] The last survivor, a 2-year-old girl, was pulled from the wreck by firefighters just as cleanup efforts were wrapping up.[26]

In response to the crash, the Chinese Government immediately ordered trains to reduce their speeds. Even before the crash, the Railway Minister had set the HSR maximum speed at 350km/h rather than their capable speeds of 380km/h. After the crash, speeds were cut for trains capable of 350km/h to 300km/h and those running at 250km/h were slowed to 200km/h.[27] It is not clear how temporary these restrictions are, but it is likely they will be lifted in order to save passenger travel time, allow fare prices to increase, and so China can showcase their national HSR technological superiority.

In 2004, Chinese trains achieved modest speeds of 160km/h. That year, Kawasaki Heavy Industries president Tadaharu Ohashi warned the Chinese government that it would take 8 years to master the technology to run trains at 200km/h and another 8 years to run trains at 350km/h. Instead, it took 7 years for Chinese trains to increase from 160km/h to 380km/h.[27] In comparison, Japan spent 47 years to achieve bullet train speeds of 300km/h in 2011 after the Tokaido Shinkansen opened in 1964.[27] Some argue that high speeds should not be the only way of measuring technological success. Other factors such as noise, vibration levels, ride comfort, and safety records are important barometers as well.[27]

Following the crash, the Ministry of Railways announced that three high-ranking railway officials in conjunction with the national HSR project were fired immediately after the crash. They were identified as Long Jing, head of the Shanghai Railway Bureau; Li Jia, party secretary and the deputy chief of the bureau, He Shengli.[28] Additionally, 55-year-old Ma Cheng, a top executive of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), reported collapsed and died during questioning by crash investigators.[19] Premier Wen Jiabao also ordered safety inspections of all HSR and railway lines, both functional and under construction. According to the Xinhua News Agency[26], the Shanghai Railway Bureau determined a design flaw in a signaling system likely caused the crash. Despite parts of the viaduct being clearly damaged, structural testing was seemingly forgone. A speedy cleanup process enforced by the Railway Ministry, resumed service on the line between Wenzhou and Ningbo within 30 hours of the crash.[29]

The government also moved swiftly to compensate victims’ families, agreeing to pay 500,000 RNB, or more than $77,000, for each family according to the official Xinhua news agency. The government described bonuses of 10,000 RNB, or more than $1,500, for families who signed compensation agreements quickly.[10]

Broader measures with regards to the entire HSR project were also taken as the Chinese government pulled the brakes on project funding and bullet train manufacturing. The Chinese National Railway Corporation recalled for testing 54 of the CRH380BL bullet trains it had built. No timetable was released by CNR but the recall will likely reduce traffic on the popular lines, further increasing head-ways and safety measures. CNR also announced the delayed delivery of 17 more CRH380BL carriages, a value of about $1 billion.[30] The delivery is pending upon the outcomes of the safety inspections Premier Wen Jiaboa ordered and should be released in late September.

Funding and approval of new railway schemes for the national HSR project was frozen following an executive meeting of China’s cabinet, presided over by prime minister Wen Jiabao. [19] The cabinet stated it would suspend for the time being the examination and approval of new railway construction projects. This decision will also subject projects submitted for approval to thorough safety examinations as well. Although the crash, safety inspections and the funding suspension, have not deterred the Chinese government from still committing to HSR, the government has scaled back network expansion plans( china bullet trains trip on technology). To what extent is unknown, but by slowing development more time and care can be devoted to the project theoretically increasing performance certainty and overall safety.


Project Future

Although safety issues raised by the Wenzhou Crash and economic sustainability concerns have slowed China’s HSR development, the Chinese government is still determined to expand its HSR network across the nation. The “Mid-term and Long-term Railroad Network Planning”, modified in 2008, laid out further developmental goals till the year of 2020. Specific goals include: the total length of the operating railroads to exceed 120000 km; 60 percent of the trains will be electrified; In the highly busy corridors, passenger and freight lines will be separated and the equipment will be upgraded to internationally advanced standards; In order to meet the increasing demand of passenger transport, a “Four-Horizontal and Four-Vertical” (four east-west lines and four north–south lines) national high speed railroad grid dedicated to passengers will be constructed totaling 16000 km in length. The four east-west lines include: Qingdao to Taiyuan passenger dedicated line (PDL), Xuzhou to Lanzhou PDL, Shanghai to Chengdu PDL, and Shanghai to Kunming PDL. The four north-south lines include Beijing to Harbin PDL, Beijing to Shanghai PDL, Beijing to Hong Kong PDL and Shanghai to Shenzhen PDL. Other PDLs include Chengdu to Guangzhou PDL, Lanzhou to Orumqi PDL, and Hefei to Fuzhou PDL. All the PDLs are shown in the figure. [31]

Planned China High Speed Railroad National Grid


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