China High-Speed Rail (HSR)
By 2030, China expects to build eight longitudinal and eight parallel high-speed train lines to have in place a comprehensive high-speed railway network. The rise of China as a high-speed rail competitor has stunned the world. With an existing conventional rail network of 53,438 miles reaching its operating capacity due to an expansive growth in the last decade, the Chinese government has sought the opportunity to expand and upgrade the network with a very ambitious plan that is to be completed by 2020.
In 2015 China South Railway and China North Railway - the world’s two foremost rolling stock manufacturers, and producers of China’s high-speed trains - merged to form the single company, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, valued at over $26 billion. The merger prevents doubling up on research and development expenditure and reduces costs incurred by creating incompatible platforms and products. It also removes the possibility of the two Chinese HSR companies competing against each other for international contracts.
As a late starter, China's high-speed railways utilize newer and more advanced technologies. The Chinese technologies also come from a more diversified background, having absorbed both European and Japanese technologies. Unlike China, Japan cannot be physically connected to these countries once the railway is built, denying its user of some practical functions from the connectivity. When rolling stock needs an upgrade - which they will need to do in their long life cycle - they can be actually driven back to China into a Chinese plant for a speedy upgrade at a reasonable cost.
By the end of 2013, China had a high-speed train network of more than 10,000 kilometers, the world's largest, which connected many major cities making travel and freight transport much faster and more convenient. By the end of 2015, the mileage was expected to reach 19,000 km. China built the world's largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade. As of the end of 2016, China operated 20,000 kilometers of HSR track, or 65 percent of the world's total.
Although the country is a latecomer to high-speed rail technology, it has developed very fast in this field in the past decade. Now the country has the biggest high-speed rail network, measuring about 20,000km (at the end of 2015 and expanding), representing some sixty per cent of the global total mileage. It has started to actively export its high-speed rail products and technologies to other countries.
China's high-speed railway technology has reached new heights. The high-speed link between Beijing and Shanghai got faster thanks to the introduction of the China Standardized EMU, otherwise known as the patented Fuxing class of trains. The maximum speed on this vital connection has been raised from 300 to 350 kilometers per hour, reducing the journey time to a little over four hours.
China's domestic high-speed rail lines continue to expand at an exponential pace. The network is already the world's biggest, with at least 22,000 kilometers of track already in place, and more being rapidly added. Despite some problems, as was only to be expected with such an enormous initiative, the Chinese high-speed rail project is efficient, safe, affordable, and popular with domestic passengers.
In the next five years, China will invest 3.5 trillion yuan ($503 billion) to accelerate railway construction, including expansion of the country's high-speed rail network to 30,000 kilometers, a senior official said on 29 December 2016. "By 2020, more than 80 percent of China's major cities will be connected by high-speed railways," said Yang Yudong, vice-minister of transportation. China released a white paper titled "Development of China's Transport" on Dec. 29, which Hu Kaihong, director of the State Council Information Office's Press Bureau, said is the first white paper to review the sector's tremendous changes in recent decades and to set goals for its future.
In the past few years, China's railway network, especially high-speed rail, has undergone dramatic change. From 2011 to 2015, China invested 3.58 trillion yuan to build 30,000 km of railway. By the end of this year, the nation's total railway length will reach 124,000 km, including 20,000 km of high-speed railway, accounting for 65 percent of the world's total high-speed rail.
In July 2016, the National Development and Reform Commission issued an updated national railway development plan envisioning a 175,000-km rail network by the end of 2025, with 38,000 km of high-speed rail. However, the high-speed railway network still faces challenges, especially in the less-developed western part of China.
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