High-speed Rail in The People's Republic of China - History - Technology Transfer

Technology Transfer

Achieving indigenous high-speed rail technology has been a major goal of Chinese state planners. Chinese train-makers, after receiving transferred foreign technology, have been able to achieve a considerable degree of self-sufficiency in making the next generation of high-speed trains by developing indigenous capability to produce key parts and improvising upon foreign designs.

Examples of technology transfer include Mitsubishi Electric’s MT205 traction motor and ATM9 transformer to CSR Zhuzhou Electric, Hitachi’s YJ92A traction motor and Alstom’s YJ87A Traction motor to CNR Yongji Electric, Siemens’ TSG series pantograph to Zhuzhou Gofront Electric. Most of the components of the CRH trains manufactured by Chinese companies were from local suppliers, with only a few parts imported.

For foreign train-makers, technology transfer is an important part of gaining market access in China. Bombardier, the first foreign train-maker to form a joint venture in China, has been sharing technology for the manufacture of railway passenger cars and rolling stock since 1998. Zhang Jianwei, President and Chief Country Representative of Bombardier China, stated that in a 2009 interview, “Whatever technology Bombardier has, whatever the China market needs, there is no need to ask. Bombardier transfers advanced and mature technology to China, which we do not treat as an experimental market.” Unlike other series which have imported prototypes, all CRH1 trains have been assembled at Bombardier’s joint-venture with CSR, Bombardier Sifang in Qingdao.

Kawasaki’s cooperation with CSR did not last as long. Within two years of cooperation with Kawasaki to produce 60 CRH2A sets, CSR began in 2008 to build CRH2B, CRH2C and CRH2E models at its Sifang plant independently without assistance from Kawasaki. According to CSR president Zhang Chenghong, CSR "made the bold move of forming a systemic development platform for high-speed locomotives and further upgrading its design and manufacturing technology. Later, we began to independently develop high-speed CRH trains with a maximum velocity of 300–350 kilometers per hour, which eventually rolled off the production line in December 2007." Since then, CSR has ended its cooperation with Kawasaki. Kawasaki is currently challenging China's high-speed rail project for patent theft.

Between June and September 2005, the Ministry of Railways launched bidding for high speed trains with a top speed of 350 km/h, as most of the main high speed rail lines were designed for top speeds of 350 km/h or higher. Along with CRH3C, produced by Siemens and CNR Tangshan, CSR Sifang bid 60 sets of CRH2C.

In 2007, travel time from Beijing to Shanghai was about 10 hours at a top speed of 200 km/h in the upgrade Beijing-Shanghai Railway. To increase transport capacity, the Ministry of Railways ordered 70 16-car trainsets from CSR Sifang and BST, including 10 sets of CRH1B and 20 sets of CRH2B seating trains, 20 sets of CRH1E and 20 sets of CRH2E sleeper trains.

Construction of the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, the world's first high speed rail with designed speed 380 km/h, began on April 18, 2008. In the same year, the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Railway agreed to a joint action plan for the indigenous innovation of high-speed trains in China. The Railway Ministry then launched the CRH1-350 (Bombardier and BST, designated as CRH380D/DL), CRH2-350 (CSR, designated as CRH380A/AL), and CRH3-350 (CNR and Siemens, designated as CRH380B/BL & CRH380CL), to develop new generation of CRH trains with top operation speed 380 km/h. A total of 400 new generation trains were ordered. CRH380A entered service on the Shanghai-Hangzhou High-Speed Railway on October 26, 2010. The CRH380A is the first indigenous high speed train of the CRH series.

On October 19, 2010, the Ministry of Railways declared the beginning of research and development on "super-speed" railway technology, which would increase the average speed of trains to over 500 kilometers per hour.

Read more about this topic:  High-speed Rail In The People's Republic Of China, History

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