BEIJING, May 8 -- China will continue with research and developmentinto its new generation high-speed trains despite the industry'starnished image due to a spate of operation faults last year,according to a plan for the country's rail traffic equipmentmanufacturing industry. The new generation trains will run at speeds of more than 300 km anhour, according to the five-year plan for the industry for the2011-2015 period, which was released by the Ministry of Industryand Information Technology on Monday. The plan underscores the reliability, comfort and maintainabilityof passenger rail transportation equipment. It requires thoroughresearch and development of key technologies and systems related torail traffic. The fast development of high-speed trains came under question afterfrequent operation failures and a fatal crash. |
On July 23 last year, a high-speed train slammed into a stalledtrain near the eastern city of Wenzhou, leaving 40 people dead and172 injured. The incident was blamed on faulty signaling equipment. Construction of high-speed trains and railways cooled sharply afterthe State Council, or China's cabinet, ordered slower operationalspeeds in the wake of the crash. Trains with a maximum speed of 350 km per hour (kph) were orderedto run no faster than 300 kph, while those with a maximum speed of250 kph had to run at no more than 200 kph. Some analysts then predicted the accident would hamper the nation'sexports of high-speed train technologies.
But contrary to these concerns, China has continued to export awide range of equipment including electric multiple units, urbanrail vehicles, steam locomotives, large road maintenance equipmentto many countries such as Russia, Australia, Brazil, India,Argentina, Turkey, Iran and Malaysia. "Compared to other high-end equipment manufacturing industries, thehigh-speed rail sector has a better industry foundation. It is alsothe easiest in terms of safety control," said Yuan Gangming, aresearcher with Tsinghua University. From 2006 to 2010, China enjoyed an average annual growth rate of31.9 percent in the sales value of rail traffic equipments. Thenation is capable of producing 2,000 high-power locomotives, 8,000passenger rail vehicles and 60,000 freight wagons every year.
Nevertheless, like in other high-end equipment manufacturingindustries, the nation lacks independent property rights in therail transportation equipment sector. For instance, about 80 percent of equipment that make integratedcircuit chips were imported, according to previous media reports. The nation has called for more investment and innovation to boostindependent manufacturing. The plan revealed that in 2010, thenation's rail traffic equipment producers put nearly four percentof their sales revenue into research and development of newtechnologies.
The plan says that the nation's rail traffic will boom in comingfive to 10 years with a large demand for various equipments. Itestimates that the nation will consume more than 1,000 electricmultiple units and about 5,000 locomotives from 2011 to 2015. In recent years, urban rail systems have expanded fast across Chinaas stifling pollution and traffic congestion has become adevelopment bottleneck of the world's second largest economy. By the end of 2010, 13 cities opened 49 railways with a mileage of1,425.5 kilometers. The lines are sprawling.
China now tops theworld in the construction of urban railways, with an average annualnew mileage of 270 kilometers. By 2015, the nation's urban rail system will have a total length ofmore than 2,700 kilometers, the plan says. Meanwhile, overseas demand was forecast to grow as many countriesare also building new lines or upgrading old ones. The global rail traffic equipment market will grow by 3 percent onaverage each year by 2015, with an annual demand averaging morethan 100 billion euros (130 billion U.S. dollars), the plan says,citing forecasts of the Association of the European Rail Industry.
In the five-year plan, the ministry predicted that the industry'sannual sales value will exceed 400 billion yuan (63 billion U.S.dollars) every year and investment by backbone enterprises inresearch and development will exceed 5 percent of their annualsales by 2015. By 2020, the industry's annual sales value would exceed 650 billionyuan and investment in research and development would exceed 6percent of annual sales, it said.
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