Beijing, February 28, 2010
By ZHAO Cheng, ZHANG Xudong, QI Zhongxu and LIN Hongmei of Xinhua New Agency
Dream Coming True – HSR History in China
The Chinese people have made the following equations:
5 Years = 40 Years;
3 Hours = 11 hours; and
1 Type = 4 Types, etc.
In 5 years’ time, China has fulfilled what took other countries 40 years in HSR development. Now it takes only 3 hours to travel via HSR from Wuhan to Guangzhou, which used to take 11 hours. With the most advanced 4 HSR technologies in the world, China has made a distinctive HSR brand of its own.
Rapidly, China has stepped into the HSR Era ahead of all other countries after experiencing several stages of development, namely, introducing the 200 km-per-hour high-speed train technologies, developing its own 350 km-per-hour and 380 km-per-hour Harmony CRH, putting Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city Rail and Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR into operation, and the Beijing-Shanghai HSR which is about to be put into use.
Shocked by the speed of China, the medias of all other countries report that HSR in China has transformed from a follower into a pace-setter of the world.
Even US President Obama feels pressure and proclaims in his State of the Union Address, ‘There is no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains.’
Touched by the China model, some countries are studying the innovations made by China and starting their efforts to overtake China.
However, what they might not understand is that ---
The speed of China’s HSR comes from its never-ending pursuit of ‘speed’;
The history of China’s HSR has recorded the Chinese mentality of innovations and making the world’s best;
The model of China’s HSR has demonstrated the power of concerted efforts in R&D, which is the strong point of a socialist country;
The spirit of China’s HSR is represented by the loyalty of rail engineers and workers to their motherland and by their strong belief.
Pursuit of dreams --
With dreams of speed, China is making never-ceasing efforts to rejuvenate the glory of the Chinese nation.
With dreams of competing against the wind and the ambition to make the world’s best, China is developing its HSR in a heroic spirit.
Beijing South Railway Station on June 24, 2008
At 08:45, the siren of a Harmony CRH blew and the train marched out of Beijing towards Tianjin, swiftly.
In the cabin were Ministry of Railways’ Chief Engineer HE Huawu, Chief Planner ZHENG Jian, Chief Safety Officer GENG Zhixiu, Deputy Chief Engineer ZHANG Shuguang and AN Guodong. These leading figures of China’s HSR were joined by the Minister of Railways in the cabin. With their eyes focusing on the LCD monitor in front of them, they could feel their hearts beating faster as the train speed rose.
219, 278, 300… As the figure climbed, the train speed rose rapidly. 15 minutes later, the monitor read 394.3.
The train was flying on the rail, competing against the wind.
Like a white flash of lightning, the Harmony CRH left a dreamlike track on the vast land.
This was a historical moment. On the independently-built railway and CRH, a new rail speed record was made.
Now their dream has come true and these tough guys jumped with joy with tears in their eyes.
While look backing into the history of China’s HSR, the experience of pursuing the dream is really unforgettable.
In the past, it was a charming but hard-to-realize dream for the Chinese rail engineers and workers to create speed of the wind.
HE Huawu comes from Ziyang of Sichuan Province. Chengdu-Chongqing Rail, the first railway built after the PRC was founded, passed right through his hometown. He grew up listening to the train siren blowing. Just as his colleagues, HE also has an HSR dream in the depth of his heart.
In 1979, HE Huawu was enrolled by the China Academy of Railway Sciences. Once in the library, he was shocked by a book about the Japanese Shinkansen that ran at the speed of 210 km per hour. It was the first time that he knew the world had such a high speed on rails. Can China also do it? ‘It was really a dream that I dare not speak out. At the time, the speed on Chinese rails was only a few dozens of kilometers per hour.’, HE recalls his college time.
Also in that year, China adopted the national policy of reform and opening up.
Over the following 20 years, highways, water transport and civil aviation in China grew rapidly. But the railways, which should have the backbones of transport in China, were still lingering at a low level. The average speed of rails in China was only 62 km per hour. And the rail length per capita was only 5.5 cm, less than that of a cigarette.
The railways in China ran at a low speed and suffered losses. At the same time, it was difficult for the passengers to buy rail tickets and for businesses to transport their goods. In which direction should China develop its rail transport?
Backwardness will always encourage reforms and progress. The rail officials, engineers and workers in China started to open their eyes to observe the outside world and think about changes.
It was a normal day in 1991. A high-speed train sped out of Paris towards Lyon at 200 km per hour.
In the train, several scholar-like people with Eastern faces were discussing something excitedly. They were engineers from the Ministry of Railways of China and were studying how France was renovating its Southeast Rail. Among them was HE Huawu. ”
HE was experiencing in person the same speed of Japanese Shinkansen that he read about 12 years ago. At the same time, he was also experiencing the arrogance of his overseas counterparts, which hurt them sharply. ‘Chinese rail transport is not doomed to lag behind. We will definitely catch up one day in the future.’
At the time, HSR in Germany, France and Japan was growing mature. And China was just starting its study. Most of the Chinese had no idea of HSR. In China, the path towards HSR was filled with doubts, misunderstanding and even quarrels.
In 1990 when the Beijing-Shanghai HSR proposal was made, it triggered a lot of discussion and disagreements. The quarrels about ‘Does China really need HSR?’ and ‘What kind of technologies will be adopted on our HSR?’ lasted for 10 years.
In the 10 years when China was suffering from weak technological strength and fierce controversies, the Chinese rail people have adhered to their dreams, silently and persistently.
In 1994, the blowing siren of the training running on the sped-up Shenyang-Dalian Rail marked the start of the following 6 rounds of rail speeding-up in China.
It started the march towards the dream and hope. The speeding-ups and progress are shortening the distance between China and HSR.
On April 17, 2007, the staff at Train 8060 were removing the ID plate from the train before starting from Hangzhou Rail Station. It would make its last travel as a normal-speed train between Hangzhou and Jiaxing. On the next morning, the railways in China will make the 6th round of speeding-up and new diagram.
Differing from the previous rounds, this round of speeding-up will rank the speed of China’s existing railways among the leading club in the world. The busy trunk rails will be sped up to 200-250 km per hour, the maximum of the sped-up existing rails in the world. And Harmony CRH became part of the life of the Chinese people.
6 rounds of train speeding-up has brought more expectations. Will there be a new round of speeding-up? What is the ultimate goal of rail speeding-up in China.
The answer is HSR!
The Central Party Committee and the State Council have always concentrated their attention and efforts on rail development in China. After the 16th Congress of CPC, the Central Party Committee with HU Jintao as the leader has made the strategic decision to speed up the rail development, while holding the scientific outlook on development and achieving a sound and rapid growth of the national economy in the mind.
HU Jintao points out that rail transport, the artery of national economy, major national infrastructure and mass transport means, play a crucial role in economic growth and social progress in China. He hopes all Chinese rail people understand their mission, grasp the opportunity and work hard to speed up the rail development and contribute their part to build an overall well-off society and accelerate the socialist modernization.
On the trains to study visits outside Beijing, Party Secretary HU Jintao has many times listened to work reports from the Ministry of Railways. He also has convened meetings on HSR construction and rail development. His proposals and directives have given direction for HSR development in China.
Premier WEN Jiabao, for many times, has given instructions on HSR construction. He points out that it is imperative to accelerate the rail network construction, which is the artery of transport, improve the modernization of rail technologies and facilities, and upgrade the capacity, quality and efficiency of rail transport to contribute better to the national economy and social progress.
The international experience tells us that the HSR R&D work will generally take about 20 years. Based on the existing rail technologies and facilities in China, if China makes R&D totally by itself, it will take 10 to 15 years to completely grasp the 200 km-per-hour-and-plus CRH technologies and even longer time to grasp 300 km-per-hour CRH technologies.
Neither rail transport, economic growth nor social progress in China can afford that long time.
The Chinese rail people have made a wise decision to absorb the advanced technologies in the world before making its own innovations. In this way, China can realize its HSR dream at the lowest cost and in the shortest period.
As required by the Central Party Committee and the State Council, the Ministry of Railways, after over 10 years of study and with the experience accumulated in the several rounds of speeding-up, officially proposed the scheme of leap-frog development in 2003, targeting the transport volume and capacity as the major breakthrough.
With this scheme, the railway network will extend even further and the trains will run even faster on the 9.6 million-square-km Chinese territory.
The dream is too charming to get bubbled or forsaken. After multiple discussions, the Chinese rail people are excited, with their mind widened and belief consolidated.
In the beginning of 2004, Beijing streets looked fascinating with cherry and magnolia blossoms. In this Spring that came earlier, the China HSR Plan was also born.
In January 2004, the State Council executive meeting discussed and endorsed in principle The Medium And Long-Term Railway Network Plan, which, in a heroic manner, maps out the 12,000-km-long express passenger rail network with 4 vertical and 4 horizontal lines.
3 months later, the State Council convened another meeting discussing issues concerning locomotives and rail equipment. The meeting clearly set the basic principles of ‘introducing advanced technologies, cooperation in design and manufacturing, and making the brand of China’. Also at this meeting, the project operation model was decided, which was featured by ‘introducing a small number of original overseas products, CKD in China and domestic manufacturing.’
A complete and advanced railway network is urgently needed for the prosperity of China and the welfare of the Chinese people. It is the long-awaiting dream of generations of Chinese rail people and the sacred mission of the contemporary Chinese rail people.
Minister LIU Zhijun of Railways recalls his dream, ‘Once we decide to develop HSR, we will make the world’s best HSR technologies and become the pace-setter in this field. Once we make the decision, we will build rails that last centuries and will make it in our generation.’
That means running at the speed of wind!
Rail transport in China has embraced the speedy golden time. And the HSR in China will drive on the fast track towards hope.
The dream steps on the way to realization!
Dream pursuit. Integrating the most advanced technologies in the world and creating China’s own brand of speed, HSR in China has made the capturing three leaps.
If you wish to experience HSR, just travel between Beijing and Tianjin via train.
First, at Beijing Railway Station you can take the normal-speed Train 2589 travelling between Beijing and Songyuan, which starts at 11:36 and arrives in Tianjin at 13:27. The trip will take 01:51 hours.
Then travel back at 13:50 on Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR Train C2042, which takes only 30 minutes to arrive in Beijing South Station.
81-minute duration difference and plus 200-km speed difference is the impression of an ordinary passenger on HSR.
The Chinese people and foreigners have different idea of how many years it will take to make such speed and duration difference.
In 2004 when China was introducing the high-speed train technologies, President of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan suggested that Chinese technicians should spend 8 years grasping the 200-km-per-hour train technologies and another 8 years grasping the 350-km-per-hour train technologies.
He believed that two 8 years might be too fast for China. After all, Japan spent almost 30 years raising their Shinkansen speed from 210 km to 300 km per hour.
But not for the Chinese, who began to race in their own way starting from absorption till independent innovations of train carriages, rails and communication signal technologies.
Between 2004 and 2005, CSR Qingdao Sifang Rolling Stock Assets Management Co., Ltd., China CNR Corporation Ltd Changchun and Tangshan Branches introduced technologies from Bombardier of Canada, Kawasaki of Japan and Simens of Germany, cooperating with them to design and manufacture CRH.
CRH represents the combinations of high-techs involving 9 key technologies including assembly, body, bogie, traction transformer, traction converter, 10 supporting technologies and 50,000 parts and components. It is extremely difficult to digest and absorb such complicated technologies in a short period.
ZHANG Shuguang was instructed to build a fresh CRH project innovation team. ‘Since what I am doing is closely related to the supreme interests of the Party and my country, I swear…’ The team members still remember, very clearly, their swearing words in a hotel on the Fragrant Hill. Each of them had tears in their eyes while swearing.
Such is the power of the team and such is the ambition of the rail people. The team members are all the elites from rail equipment designers and manufacturers, colleges, institutes and R&D centers in China. With their dreams and passions, they have created one miracle after another.
Each trivial component and technology represents the efforts they have made in the digestion-absorption-innovation process.
Few CRH passengers will notice a pair of rubber strip wind shields on the exterior joints of carriages, which seem to have little technological content. In 2005 during the joint-design stage, some overseas designers tried to play hide-and-seek game with us.
‘What are the rubber strips used for?’, asked the Chinese technicians.
‘No big use. Just to prevent the passengers from falling off the platform.’, answered them.
But such a simple explanation has aroused the doubts of CSR Qingdao Sifang technicians.
‘Really so simple? Very strict requirements are made for the rubber strips. Are they just preventing passengers falling off the platform?’, they questioned further.
‘Uh… I guess they can also reduce the air resistance.’
Such hesitant reply still left the technicians in doubt.
At the beginning of 2006 when the plant received the first batch of prototypes, CSR Qingdao Sifang technicians, after tests and analysis, found that the pair of wind shields can replace the bogie’s function of preventing the train from side rolls.
‘Only without neglecting any component and technology is it possible to grasp advanced technologies. ’ comments DENG Xiaojun, Chief Design Superviser of CSR Qingdao Sifang.
Three years of hard work finally produces results. On April 18, 2007, the 6th round of rail speeding-up was realized with the help of 140 pairs of China-made CRH running at the speed of over 200 km per hour.
These high-speed trains share one name, Harmony. From them on, China had its own high-speed trains.
ZHENG Derun, an elderly Chinese who has lived in Britain for years, was excited at the news he read on the Internet. In June 2007, he flew to Beijing from London and boarded CRH Train D133 to Zhengzhou, Henan Province, just to experience travelling on Harmony.
‘I have travelled a lot in Europe on high-speed trains. Now we finally have our own CRH. I really feel proud of it. My dream of years has come true’. ZHENG Derun was extremely excited. After getting off the train, he took a picture with Harmony, ‘I will show the photo to all foreigners I know.’
According to definition by the International Union of Railways, the rails above 200 km per hour can be called HSR. In the 6th round of speeding-up, over 6,000 km existing trunk railways in China have been sped up to over 200 km per hour.
But the Chinese rail people didn’t title their railways as HSR. ‘Though many people proposed the naming, we didn’t say yes because China will not cease its pursuit for real HSR and we have even bigger dream.’, recalls Mr. WANG Yongping, spokesperson of the Ministry of Railways.
After China’s 200-km-per-hour CRH was produced, many foreigners thought that China would stay at this level for 10 years. But 10 years is too long for the Chinese people, who immediately initiated the R&D work on 300-350 km-per-hour CRH.
Like the sport of weight lifting, even one more 1 kilo is a tremendous achievement.
On the basis of 200 plus-km-per-hour trains, each more 10 km in speed represents a fundamental leap forward.
Common technologies can be grasped via introduction. But money cannot buy core technologies, which can best be demonstrated by a porcelain insulator on the traction motor of 350-km-per-hour CRH.
Originally, the Chinese technicians had considered importing the high-voltage terminal insulator on the traction motor because the Chinese technologies didn’t reach the required standards. But the cautious overseas technicians said to them, ‘Sorry, out of stock.’
They had to make it by themselves since import was impossible. ‘We contacted almost all Chinese insulator producers and finally decided to cooperate with a producer in Wenzhou in R&D, which led to the invention of our own technologies in this field.’ Said Mr. WU Shunhai, Technical Management Manager of CSR Zhuzhou Motor Co., Ltd.
With their own efforts, the Chinese technicians have made over 100 technological results in bogie, aerodynamics, braking, traction drive, train network control, etc.
Within only 2 years’ time, China has leaped from the platform of 200-km-per-hour HSR to that of 350 km per hour.
On August 1, 2008, Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR was put into operation. After a few overseas specialists boarded China’s first HSR train from Beijing to Tianjin, the staff introduced to them, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you have boarded a train that will drive at 350 km per hour.’ ‘350 km per hour? Are you serious?’, the overseas specialists wondered. Obviously, they wouldn’t believe the Chinese trains could reach such a high speed.
The fields outside the train windows were flashing backward rapidly and the speed shown on the LCD monitor was climbing. When the number read 350 km per hour, the specialists couldn’t believe their eyes. Even after they got off the train in Tianjin and sat on the restaurant table, they were still in the shocked confusion.
The 350-km-per-hour CRH has made China catch up with the international level. The invention of the 380-km-per-hour CRH will place China in the leading position of HSR in the world.
On February 26, 2006, the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Science and Technology signed the Agreement on Joint and Independent Innovations of China High-speed Trains. Stipulated by this Agreement, the two Ministries would cooperate in the R&D work of a new-generation high-speed trains with the operating speed of 380 km per hour, with the maximum operating speed 60 km faster than German and French high-speed trains and 80 km faster than Japanese Shinkansen trains. Besides, the energy-saving and comfort performance of Chinese high-speed trains would be better than their overseas counterparts.
How exciting it is!
ZHAO Minghua, a 46-year-old lady of Korean ethnic, is the Deputy Chief Engineer at CSR Changchun, who has worked in this field for over 20 years. Her life dream is to make China’s own high-speed trains. In 1998, she was in charge of designing China’s first power-distributed CRH called Spring City. She has experienced the joy of success and shed the tears of failure. But she has never given up her efforts or forsaken the dream of making the fastest high-speed trains in the world.
In the beginning of 2009 when she was instructed by the Ministry of Railways to invent the 380-km-per-hour CRH, she couldn’t fall asleep for the whole night. She knew the difficulties of the task, but she also knew that her dream was about to be realized. She would exert all her efforts.
On the following day, she kept herself busy in the R&D work. And the first problem in front of her was how to add on the power of traction motor.
Generally, more power means larger size of the traction motor, which is installed on the bogie at the bottom of the train with limited space. It is very difficult to expand the motor size by even one centimeter.
She, together with her less-than-100 team members, have made numerous tests in a year. They slept on the office desks and fed on instant noodles. ‘For many times when it seemed that success was right in hand, another failure came in the simulation test. I could see the tears coming out of the eyes of my people.’ ZHAO can never forget the days, ‘We wiped off the tears and started to work again’.
Finally, by improving the insulation and thermal dissipation of motor materials, they have succeeded in raising the motor power by 25 kw without enlarging the motor size, which is still the world’s peak technology in the field.
Success in the network control system has bestowed CRH with a ‘Chinese Chip’. Breakthroughs in the study of insulated gate bipolar transistor IGBT has given the ‘Chinese brain’ to CRH. The train body is widened by 0.4 meters and reformed, which allows CRH to have a ‘Chinese body’. The locomotive is freshly designed and has a ‘Chinese face’. The CRH Harmony has become a ‘Chinese biz card’.
Till now, CRH has attained over 900 HSR patents. The new-generation 380-km-per-hour CRH will celebrate its inauguration ceremony in the first half of the year.
First, introduce the advanced technologies followed by digestion and absorption. Then make localized 200 to 250-km-per-hour high-speed trains. Second, independently design 350-km-per-hour CRH. Third, independently make the 380-km-per-hour CRH.
Each of the three steps is done by the rail people with their wisdom and arduous efforts. Each leap forward is unforgettable.
High-speed rails and trains are twins. When China made the decision to introduce the advanced high-speed train technologies, it had already set an agenda of building its own high-speed rails.
‘Higher speed requires higher standard of rails.’, says HE Huawu. ‘Highly stationary and highly stable’ are two major requirements for high-speed rail construction.
China has experienced fierce disputes over whether the rails should have fragments.
Traditional railways have fragments, which are usually stone ones laid under the timber sleepers. And the fragment-free rails are laid on one heavy-duty concrete slab. Which way to adopt is a major technical issue. At that time, people could find the technicians sitting in the meeting room of Ministry of Railways, having serious and solemn discussions about it.
It was really a tough choice to make. Imagine a wrong technical path is taken on the high-speed rails over 10,000 km long, it will cause terrible disasters. But the Chinese rail people believe, ‘Personal pride does not matter at all. We must be responsible for the history and for the Chinese people!’
The Ministry of Railways has organized a number of technical delegations to visit Japan, Germany and France, trying to study their high-speed rail technologies. And tests have also been made on short rails in China. Before the high-speed rail construction work was started, they had already had their own ideas.
The rails with fragments can save money during the construction stage. But when the trains run on them at a higher speed, they will jolt to a larger extent, which will bring huge investment in maintenance. The fragments-free rails can make the trains highly stationary and stable, which reduces the cost of maintenance. Though the construction cost of fragments-free rails is about 1.3 to 1.5 times over that of rails with fragments, 10-year operation will save all the extra costs, even the interests.
After disputes, overseas visits, studies, comparisons, science-based judgments and prudent decision-making, the Ministry of Railways finally decided to adopt the fragments-free rail technologies in China’s high-speed rail construction.
However, at that time China didn’t have mature technologies. For the Chinese rail people who are expert in building rails with fragments, the difficulty would be the same as asking the soccer player to play basketball.
The first problem they had to solve was the geological subsidence. The allowed subsidence of high-speed rails is counted with millimeters, following higher standard than that of F1 speedways. As China has a huge distance in all directions and complex topography, the technicians were facing many problems that were not met by their overseas counterparts.
90% of areas where the newly-operated Zhengzhou-Xi’an high-speed rail runs are loess-covered area, which will subside or get deformed in rainy seasons. Once deformed, the rails will have to be rebuilt. The Ministry of Railways have invited a dozen of top Chinese academicians to study the topography, collect data and finally find a solution to the problem.
In the most collapsible soils, 1 cement-soil compaction pile is planted every one meter. At Longmen Station of Luoyang alone, which has a floor area of 2 million square meters, 500,000 such piles are planted, with each pile about 10 meters long and 0.4 meters in diameter.
‘The railway beds at the Longmen Station of Luoyang are over 8 meters high. After these piles are planted and the grouting is made, there is no space even for a nail. The bed surface is as smooth as that of a marble and you can even roller-skate on it.’ Said GUO Zhiyong, Deputy Chief Engineer at China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co, Ltd. and Chief Designer of Zhengzhou-Xi’an High-speed Rail.
Differing from ordinary railways, high-speed rails often need elevated rail bridges. The elevated rail bridges in Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR and Beijing-Shanghai HSR account for over 80% of the rails’ total length. Thus it is highly significant to select the right type of bridges.
‘Time runs fast and will not wait for us.’ ZHENG Jian, who is responsible for the elevated rail bridges, always quotes the poem to encourage his team. Only 2 days after the Spring Festival Eve in 2005, at the call of the Ministry of Railways, the Chinese specialists in bridge engineering, design, construction and equipment gathered in Beijing and started the research work.
They have spent numerous sleepless nights, testing and discussing. At last, they worked out a technical plan using 32-meter charpies and bridge machines, creating a series of new technologies in manufacturing, transport and beam framing, and solving the long-lasting problem in high-speed rail construction. Five years has passed, ZHENG Jian still remembers clearly the details at that time.
Rail alignment, switches, precise positioning… ‘We can improve our ability in technical solutions. But we shall never neglect each step that we have to make by ourselves’, said HE Huawu.
‘When the train speed rises to 350 km per hour, the water glass in the carriage remains stationary.’ The ‘highly stationary and highly stable’ functions of China’s high-speed rails and trains have won high praise from the international rail specialists.
Communications signals constitute the high-speed rail command & control system, which are not in the list of transferred technologies. Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR adopts the Simens technologies at the price of 1.9 billion Yuan. When Simens bidded for Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR, it offered a shocking price of 6.4 billion Yuan.
The Chinese high-speed rail technicians, who felt irritated, decided to develop their own technologies. At the end of 2007, the Ministry of Railways set up a research team working on it.
When the Chinese people were enjoying the Spring Festival holiday, over 20 specialists left their families and gathered in a building close to Beijing West Railway Station, starting the research work. On the first day of 2008 lunar calendar, the traditional day of family gathering, they came back to work after hurriedly eating jiaozi with their family members.
In a short time, the simulation lab was built. Like motors, these specialists worked in shifts and made simulation tests in turns, detected problems, revised the date and made the tests again.
What happens if there are fallen objects on the rails? The control system can sense it and give signals automatically, then the signals at that section will turn red.
The train can receive the signal when it is 6 km away from the fallen object and will stop.
When fracture is formed in the rails, the signals will detect it automatically and turn red. The train will also stop automatically.
After more than 4,000 environment simulation tests are done, the technicians adopted the control technologies on Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR to test them.
However, after the system was installed on the train, it failed because the air conditioning and generators on the train caused jamming to the system. They went back to their simulation lab in Beijing and made revisions while checking the system.
Revisions were made after tests. After hundreds of tests-revisions were made, the world’s leading wireless train control technologies finally yielded success and were employed on Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR.
Nowadays, the CRH on Wuhuan-Guangzhou HSR has travelled for 3 million km with the failure rate at 0.004 percent. This figure represents the world’s best.
Five years’ hard work has harvested results. The Chinese people, in a miraculous way, have set up the huge platform of high-speed technologies, which is made up of ‘trains, rails and signals’.
Owning one generation of technologies, putting into use the next generation and inventing the further next generation. Today, high-speed rail transport of China is presenting itselfin front of the world, strong and steadfast.
Weaving the dream – cohesion, union and cooperation help to clench the five separate fingers into a forceful fist.
‘A fast train only depends on the locomotive’ is a phrase sounding familiar to many people. But it is not true for the high-speed trains.
The power of high-speed trains is provided by motors that are distributed at the bottom of carriages, meaning each carriage will contribute to the power. Just like the innovation team of CRH, the close cooperation of the government, manufacturers, colleges and institutes has produced the mammoth collective power.
Who would take the leading post while China was trying to realize its HSR dream? Why China’s HSR has made so many World’s Best?
The railways watchdog, by using the ‘tangible hand’ of the government, has guided the ‘HSR model’ featured by independent innovations. At the same time, the watchdog gives full play to the market, which has proven to be a success.’ said ZHANG Shuguang who is in charge of introducing the high-speed trains technologies into China.
Back in 2004 when the Central Party Committee and the State Council made the decision of developing HSR in China, the move of introducing the first-class technologies in the world was started.
Simens of Germany, Alstom of France, Kawasaki of Japan and Bombardier of Canada, the four leading giants in HSR technologies in the world, were all eager to occupy the huge Chinese market.
‘Each of these four international giants has a sales revenue of over 150 billion dollars per year. And the largest Chinese rolling-stock producer at the time had only a few billions Yuan of sales each year. How can a golden fish cooperate with a whale?’ ZHANG Shuguang recalls the negotiations with them, ‘But our strong point is that Chinese producers are united to form a ‘China corps’.’
He continues in an emotional tone, ‘In the past, we used to negotiate with them separately and the result was always negative. We paid higher price without getting the core technologies.’
The Ministry of Railways finally made the decision: the rail transport market in China should integrate all trains and
‘The Ministry of Railways has started to organize all negotiations with overseas producers and deliver the orders. Facing the clasped ‘fist’, any international giant wishing to come into the Chinese market must agree to transfer all their technologies, localize production and make Chinese brands at rational prices.’
The negotiations were really heart-shaking.
The Simens of Germany was greatly interested and extremely confident. It offered a staggering price with each prototype train at 350 million Yuan and the technology transfer fee at 390 million euros. It would not make any concession even on the night before the bidding.
As the Chief Negotiator of the Ministry of Railways, ZHANG Shuguang proclaimed firmly that Simens would definitely be refused in the bid if the prototype train price was above 250 million Yuan and the technology transfer fee exceeded 150 million euros.
The Simens Chief Negotiator shrugged his shoulders and asked ZHANG conceitedly, ‘Are you serious?’
The result was announced the following year. Simens was refused. Alstom, Kawasaki and Bombardier were awarded with the bids. The news was followed by sharp falling of Simens stocks and all its negotiating team were kicked out of Simens.
The next year when Simens was bidding, the price of its prototype train was lowered to 250 million Yuan. Furthermore, Simens even transferred its core technologies at the price of 80 million euros.
This project alone has saved 9 billion Yuan.
With this tightly clasped ‘fist’, China has firmly taken the dominant position in the negotiations and introduced core technologies at the lowest price.
Also with this ‘fist’, China has sped up its innovations. LU Qiang, professor at Tsinghua University and Academician in aerodynamics has deeper understanding of it.
One day in the early spring of 2007 when the field was about to go green, dozens of specialists and scholars were having a discussion on a CRH train travelling on Jiaozhou-Jinan Rail, with sparks of excitement in their eyes.
At that time, China was making trials for the upcoming 6th round of rail speeding-up. The Ministry of Railways invited dozens of professors headed by the President of Tsinghua University to the trial operation on Jiaozhou-Jinan Rail. And Academician LU Qiang was one of the invited professors.
When the speed of the train reached 250 km per hour, the professors exclaimed.
Standing right beside ZHANG Shuguang, Professor LU Qiang started his comments.
‘The plane travels on the runway at 300 km per hour before taking off. Now the CRH is travelling at 250 km per hour.’, LU Qiang paused a little while, giving deeper meaning to his words.
ZHANG Shuguang smiled, ‘Just like planes, HSR aerodynamics is also needed. Indeed, we need it urgently.’
‘That’s it.’ LU grew more excited, knowing ZHANG was his bosom friend.
‘We are thinking about studies on this project. Can you organize a team on it?’
‘When do you want the team to start working?’
‘Today!’ ZHANG replied solemnly.
Upon going back to Beijing, LU Qiang started to draft the scheme of studies on HSR aerodynamics, which was in the hands of ZHANG Shuguang two days later.
Another two days passed and LU Qiang received the blank Study Applications from the Ministry of Railways for him to fill in.
Two days later, the study was approved by the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Science and Technology and Tsinghua University.
The second day after the research was initiated, the team headed by LU Qiang was established, which gathered the best aerodynamics specialists and experts in China coming from Tsinghua University, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Peking University and other top universities in China, China Academy of Railway Sciences and businesses attached to the Ministry of Railways.
While working in the team for the research, these specialists from all parts of China were united like a family.
‘Such an approach can guarantee that we make the right direction and fastest industrialization of the research results’, said LU Qiang.
Then how fast is it?
Studying in the perspective of aerodynamics, they found that the power loss of the high-speed train’s pantograph accounted for 14% of the entire train’s power losses. And Some decorations in the carriages would bring negative effects on energy-saving. While submitting the research results to the Ministry of Railways, they also included this finding.
After reading the report, ZHANG Shuguang headed to the CSR plant and asked the workers to remove the aesthetic decorations. After that, he asked LU Qiang to organize further studies and optimize the form of pantograph. Later, ZHANG told LU Qiang that their research results helped to reduce the high-speed train power losses by 7%.
So what does 7% mean?
It saves the consumption of over 10 million tons of coals for China.
The 7% reduction is the result of aerodynamics optimization. It is also the result of cooperation between businesses, universities and research institutes, which is organized by the government agency.
How heavy a train body should an axle bear?
The solution to this seemingly simple question pools the wisdom and efforts of hundreds of top Chinese specialists.
When CSR Qingdao Sifang introduced the Kawasaki technologies of Japan to produce CRH, the design specifications required that the axle weight should be 14 tons.
During the speeding-up tests, the train body began to tremble. It is recognized in the high-speed train community that light axle weight can help the train run faster because the load is small. But too small weight will make the train tremble.
How much should the axle weight be?
Since June, 2007, CSR Qingdao Sifang had made numerous simulation tests but failed many times to find the solution.
After group discussions at the Ministry of Railways, they believed that overall consideration should be given to aerodynamics, noises and vibration to optimize the system. Attention should not be focused on the axle weight alone.
Now they knew where the problem lay. The Ministry of Railways invited hundreds of specialists in structure, streamline and vibration. These specialists worked together with Institute of Mechanics of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an Academy of Aircraft Strength, Chinese Aerodynamics Research Center, and Noise Lab of Tongji University to solve this problem. After a number of simulation tests and comparisons, the best design was finally adopted.
By the end of 2007, major breakthrough had been made. The first 350-km-per-hour CRH that was produced that month carried a 15-ton axle. The problems was finally solved.
From 14 tons to 15 tons. Behind the 1-ton difference in axle weight are arduous and concerted efforts.
For the shared dream of HSR, the motherland has called upon over 50 academicians, 150,000 technicians, 600 entrepreneurs, who have worked together and created a miracle of independent innovations in HSR.
Explaining the dream – dedication, persistence and loyalty have turned the spirit of HSR into a strong force.
Of all the happinesses brought by the 350-km-per-hour CRH,
Which one do you most wish to keep?
The travelling distance of 120 km per 30 minutes?
The joy and laughs in the carriages?
I wish to keep the tear
That comes out after the blueprint is made, the rails are laid, the spikes are planted,
And the first train siren blows.’
--This is the emotional praise for the Chinese HSR people.
What kind of people are they? Some say they are steels, silent but strong. Some say they are farming cows, diligent and persistent. Some say they are wintersweets, challenging the coldness. Some say they are orchids, fragrant but silent. Indeed, they have combined all these features, loyal to the motherland and passionate for their career.
It is dedication, the HSR spirit.
Each night when HE Huahua comes home at midnight from his office, he would get into the bedroom silently, just to see his wife who has already fallen asleep.
Since taking the post of Chief Engineer at the Ministry of Railways in 2004, he has never left his office at normal off-hour or spent a weekend at home. 3 years ago, his wife contracted cancer and left weak by pains, operations and chemical treatment. After the HSR project was started, HE became even busier. His wife is left unattended because his only son is in the university.
But she, also a railway engineer, has expressed her understanding because she is fully aware what HSR means to China. HSR is her dream, too.
‘Huawu, you should value the opportunity of working for HSR in China. I can make it by myself.’ Each time when she finds her husband concerning about her health, his wife would say it, holding his hands. Clenching his teeth, HE continues to work on his HSR design.
‘I do not mind your neglect of me. But you should allocate some care for mother even if you are busy.’ complains his son.
‘Son, what I am doing is a great deed, which you will understand in the future.’ HE explains.
Extra working hours and business trips. HE is too busy to say sorry to his wife and son. They have got accustomed to it.
In June 2008 when they were doing a trial travel before Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR was put into operation, HE helped his wife board the train.
The train started. Her hearts beat faster as the speed rose. The 350-km-per-hour Harmony helped her understand the genuine meaning of ‘high-speed’. She is so proud of her husband.
‘Huawu, it’s worth it.’ She grasped his hands when getting off the train. At the moment, HE couldn’t hold back his tears.
Beijing South Railway Station, Wuhan Railway Station, Guangzhou South Railway Station, Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station…The modern shapes and splendid styles are admired by the foreign visitors. Whenever talking about the new railway stations designed by him, ZHENG Jian’s eyes are full of love, as if he was talking about his own kids.
To realize his designs and make the stations stand for centuries, the gentleman-like ZHENG Jian carries the large flipchart on his back, lobbying and even quarreling, not neglecting a trivial fault.
In his eyes, the stations along the HSR are just like pearls that contain his life value. He has no hobby beyond work. Some people wouldn’t understand why he has forsaken the job with nearly 1 million Yuan of annual income and chosen to work so hard on HSR stations. He just smiles, ‘Look at the Beijing South Railway Station and board the train on the Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR, then you can understand my joy, which can never be bought by money.’
How respectable they are! With their hearts, they have woven their dreams. With their lives, they are pursing the hope, giving their loyalty and love to their motherland and the Chinese people.
‘This project is larger than the heaven and heavier than my life because it relates to the interests and honor of China.’ The belief of dedication to the motherland is deeply printed in the hearts of all the Chinese rail people, whether they are the senior researchers, technicians, or workers.
On each train, there are 50,000 wires and 100,000 junctions, all of which must be connected by hand. The task looks simple. But for the wiring workers, they treat it like neurological surgeons doing operations. If one nerve is connected wrongly, the patient will become handicapped. It is the same with CRH. If one wire is wrongly connected, the fatal disaster might happen.
GAO Xiangli, a wire worker, is an introvert and shy girl who always speaks gently. One and half a year after she came to work at CSR Tangshan Company, she was awarded for ‘no mistake for wiring 10,000 wires’. While in the workshop, she sits or crouches silently beside the locomotive, facing the narrow switch cabinet and complex wires and doing her job skillfully for 10 hours in a row. ‘Dumb feet and unable to stand straight’ always happens to her.
‘Many people asked me how I make no mistake for wiring 10,000 wires. I really cannot tell it. Though I am a wiring worker, I
From one switch cabinet to another, tens of thousands of wires are connected by her, making a charming curve.
The foreigners do not understand how the Chinese people have progressed so rapidly in HSR construction.
Only the Chinese people know that it attributes to the ‘die hard’ spirit.
WANG Zhijian, President of Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR, once participated in Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR construction before working on the Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR construction. After working on these two HSRs, he lost weight of over 10 kilos.
Though his home in Beijing is not far from the construction site, he only spent 10 days at home in almost two years of working on Beijing-Tianjin HSR. He misses his family, too. But his job on the HSR needs him more.
‘The Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR, which runs over 1,000 km, will take foreigners 10 years. But we only spent three and ahalf years. No knacks at all. Only hard work.’
Foreign specialists will go back to rest after finishing 8-hour work. But the Chinese rail people continue to work. They don’t have the concept of rest.
During the combined debugging period on Wuhuan-Guangzhou HSR when it was the summer, the Chinese rail people were busy with the trial operation in the day and detected problems at night with electric torches. Their skin became swollen with mosquito stings, but nobody complained.
Once in a trial operation, it was found that two rails were not welded well. They followed the technical regulations and checked all the more than 10,000 junctions on the 4 lines that were over 4,000 km long.
WANG Zhijian has a catch phrase, ‘Loyalty is more important than capability.’ On his bed side, there is a notebook, in which he writes down all problems he meets in the day. Even waking up from a dream at night, he will record something in it.
The passion for HSR and dream of speed are inexhaustible motive source of Chinese HSR people.
XIN Li, the Chief Converter Expert at CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Institute.
The days after the 2009 New Year’s day were crucial for the converter design of 380-km-per-hour CRH. The converter is a key component determining the power and speed. XIN, in his fifties, spent days and night sitting in front of his computer, with his eyes focusing on thousands of charts on the display.
In the middle of March, his eyes seemed to be blurred and felt painful. Busy with his designs, he didn’t go to hospital. But one month later, it worsened. Persuaded by his colleagues, he asked for half a day’s leave to the hospital. After examination, it was found that his eyesight had dropped from 0.8 to 0.4 and the confirmed diagnosis was cornea inflammation. The doctor told him it was caused by the long-term computer UV and advised him staying away from the computer.
However, the design was in the crucial period. How could he leave the blueprints or computers?
Asking the doctor to prescribe some waterdrops, he returned to work.
One month later, his eyes suffered from inflammation again. Because of busy work, he even didn’t go to hospital this time. Later on, his eyes pained seriously, which forced him to hospital again. The examination found that his eyesight had dropped to 0.2 and he had to change for a new pair of glasses.
Repeated eye inflammations have made his eye disease hard to cure. His left eyesight has dropped to below 0.2. According to the doctor, it is impossible for his eyesight to restore to the original level. If it worsens, he might get blind.
XIN Li smiles, ‘It doesn’t matter. I will keep working even without one eye.’
From 0.8 to 0.2, the lost 0.6 can never be retracted. For China’s HSR, XIN never regrets.
The miraculous speed of HSR in China is not donated by the God or anyone else. It was done by the Chinese people with painstaking efforts.
The running trains represent the Chinese rail people’s passion for their career, loyalty to their motherland and love of dreams.
The flashing white trains remind us of China’s first nuclear bomb and first satellite. Again, we feel the ever-lasting spirit of the Chinese people, namely, truth pursuing, inclusive, independently innovative, courage to catch up with and overtake the world’s best, loyalty to the motherland, hard work and dedication. With such spirits, the Chinese rail people give their explanation of love, persistence and passion for dreams.
That is an upward national spirit, which keeps the Chinese people energetic for ever.
Realizing the dream – running at the dream-like speed towards a rejuvenated power.
The violent typhoon blows at 180 km per hour;
The plane needs 300 km per hour before taking off;
Currently, China’s CRH has an operating speed of 350 km per hour.
And CRH is still accelerating its speed. The new generation of CRH with the speed of 380 km per hour will soon celebrate the inauguration ceremony. And R&D work is being done on the 500-km-per-hour CRH.
The dream for speed has created dream-like speed.
In the city of Wuhan on the morning of February 19, 2010, the 6th day of lunar calendar when people were still celebrating the Spring Festival, it was crowded in the Wuhan Railway Station.
In the dispatching & command center of Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR, the staff were busy and the large monitor was giving data on the starting and arrival of trains.
‘From the first lunar calendar day till today, each day there are a number passengers from Wuhan or Guangzhou travelling between the two cities, arriving in the morning and leaving in the evening. Or a couple joining each other’s birth family in turns. The 1,000-km plus distance takes only 6 hours for two-way travelling’, said a dispatcher of Wuhan-Guangzhou dispatcher.
This Spring Festival has witnessed the first-time operation of Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR and Zhengzhou-Xi’an HSR, which has brought sharp increase in passenger flow. On Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR alone, 33 pairs of Harmony CRH travel between the two terminals each day, with each CRH starting every 6 minutes. Each day, the Wuhan-Guangzhou HSR will transport 70,000 passengers.
The Spring Festival transport has helped more Chinese people experience the glamour of HSR.
The CRH, like rainbows and dragons, brings speed to us, shortening the distance between rural and urban areas, and between the south and west of China. Moreover, it brings us a life of harmony and happiness.
‘At present, China has most HSR technologies, strongest integration capacity, longest operating mileage, highest operating speed and largest scale of construction in the world. This year, the 4th International High-speed Railways Conference will be held in China, the first time in history.’ HE Huawu said excitedly. His dream 19 years ago which was formed on the French high-speed train is realized today.
CHEN Juemin, Director-General of International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Railways has the best understanding of China’s leading position in the world.
‘I have been in the international affairs for almost 30 years. In the past, I used to take Ministry officials and technicians to
Since the Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR was put into operation, CHEN has seldom visited other countries. Instead, he is busy receiving the study delegation from other countries.
‘I will receive a visiting delegation every two or three days. Last year I received over 100 visiting delegations’, he said excitedly.
‘Existence determines the influence. Many countries, including US, Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, hope to cooperate with China in HSR construction’, CHEN said proudly.
In August, 2009, Andrew Adonis, the British Transport Minister boarded the 350-km-per-hour Harmony CRH and said, ‘The train is not only speedy but also stable. You are the pace setter of HSR in the world. The future of railways is in China,’
US is the pioneer of the world’s rail development and has the longest rail mileage. Facing the rapid growth of China’s HSR, the Americans have felt the pressure because they don’t have HSR in the States. And an article in USA Today on February 7th calls upon that ‘US should learn something from China’s HSR.’
How China has created such fantastic speed?
Responding to this question, Minister LIU Zhijun replies proudly, ’We have the political advantage under the leadership of CPC and of the socialism, we have the management advantage with complete rail network and uniform command, and in particular, we have competent teams. The Chinese people have given strong support to us. The leaps made by the HSR in China has adopted the scientific outlook on development and found a way of independent innovations with Chinese characteristics.’
‘The rainbow and dragons in the sky,
And the fascinating siren blowings
Have touched so many people.
Chinese trains, that have run for a hundred years,
Are taking the leading position in the world for the first time.’
Praised a Chinese poet.
The era has boosted trains, which in turn run ahead of the era.
All Chinese rail people know that the CRH is just the start of their ambition.
By 2012, China will have built a HSR network with 4 horizontal and 4 vertical rail lines, with 13,000 km in mileage exceeding the total HSR mileage in the world today. By that time, the world’s largest HSR network will join the developed Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Bohai Rim area and other parts of China.
The 4 vertical rails are just like rainbows in the sky, they are:
1,300-km-long Beijing-Shanghai HSR, taking 4 hours;
2,260-km-long Beijing-Guangzhou HSR, taking 7 hours;
1,700-km-long Beijing-Harbin HSR, taking 5 hours;
1,700-km-long Beijing-Hangzhou HSR, taking 5 hours;
The 4 horizontal rails are just like dragons in the sky, they are:
1,400-km-long Xuzhou-Lanzhou HSR, taking 5 hours;
2,000-km-long Shanghai-Kunming HSR, taking 7 hours;
800-km-long Qingdao-Taiyuan HSR, taking 3 hours;
1,900-km-long Nanjing-Chengdu HSR, taking 6 hours;
High speed, informationization and automation. Chinese HSR is no long a dream.
The Chinese rail people are ambitious. By that that, both passengers and goods will be transported easily and fast. Our long-awaited dreams will be realized.
By 2020, HSR network in China will have a mileage of 18,000 km. Starting from Beijing, it will take between 1 and 8 hours to reach most of the provincial capital cities. Starting from Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and other central cities to the surrounding cities, it will take between half an hour and an hour. China, with a vast territory, will become a one-day transport circle.
Imagine the charming future for a while.
The cities are connected. The rural and urban areas are connected. HSR will bring high speed to the Chinese territory with an area of 9.6 million square km that spreads 5,000 km from west to east, and from north to south.
When commenting on the history of HSR, the economists point out: the Japanese Shinkansen, which was put into use in 1964, made tremendous contributions to the Tokyo Olympics in the same year and 1970 Osaka World Expo. It is the starting point of Japanese economy.
HSR is the lover of low-carbon economy, whose energy consumption is only one sixth that of autos. If electricity is used, the carbon emission is close to zero. HSR is the combination of high techs. Each 1 Yuan of input will make 9 Yuan. HSR also boosts cities and towns, which will come into being along the rails. HSR is also the artery of the economy, connecting and combining rural and urban areas. It will emit the power beyond our imaginations.
History has proven that the HSR will become the pushing force of a new round of Chinese economic growth. Great changes will happen to the transport models, economic layout, life styles, time-space concepts because of the HSR.
Over the past century, many Chinese people dreamed of rejuvenating China by building rails.
In the summer of 1912, Sun Yat-sen was quoted, ''In today''s world, no country can develop itself without railways. Without railways, China, as a vast country, can not boost its industries.''
In the century-old rail development annals, we can find the following moments:
In 1881, the Tangshan-Xugezhuang Rail, China’s first rail 9.7 km long, was built, marking the start of Chinese rails.
Beijing-Zhangjiakou Rail is the first one surveyed, designed and built by the Chinese people in 1909. It was 200 km long. The Chinese people, who had been bullied by the western powers for years, felt proud of it.
The Chengdu-Chongqing Rail, the first artery rail built in 1952 after PRC was founded, was 502 km long. It revealed a new
Beijing-Tianjin Inter-city HSR, China’s first genuine HSR, was finished in 2008. China has stepped into the HSR Era. It is a moment of brilliance.
We can see the longing eyes. With these eyes, we find the envy shown by XU Jishe living in Qing Dynasty by saying that ‘turning irons into rails to speed up the transport’. And we can also find the dream of Sun Yat-senof building 100,000 miles of rails in China. The dream of Chinese people about speed has lasted over 100 years.
We can see the difficult but firm footprints of Chinese people left while pursuing their dreams of speed.
We can see the torches burning with the national spirit of diligence. The spirit has been passed on from one generation to another.
With the siren blowing, the Chinese trains are marching out of the past, difficult but persistent, pursuing the dream. The dream will light the hope and fulfill the future. The dream is pushing the Chinese people to work even harder towards a bright future.