IRJ - July 2012 - (Page 21)
Chinese high speed:
in the wake of Wenzhou
It is one year since the fatal Wenzhou high-speed crash seriously dented China’s enthusiasm for highspeed. Construction has resumed, but at a slower pace and in a more cautious way than before, and with concerns over spiralling debt China is now turning to the private sector to invest in rail, reports Han Qiao from China Features.
HINA’s prestigious and ambitious high-speed rail construction programme hit a low point after last July’s collision between two high-speed trains in Wenzhou in which 40 people lost their lives. In response, China halted work on new lines, conducted nationwide safety checks and ordered high-speed trains to reduce speed. The number of lines operating trains at high speed, which exceeded 9600km in mid-2011, was scaled back to just over 6000km as trains on many lines had their maximum speed cut to less than 200km/h. In addition, only one high-speed line – the 102km Guangzhou - Shenzhen route – was put into service in the second half of last year. In March the Ministry of Railways
(MOR) said that seven high-speed lines totalling 3500km would open by the end of this year. But in late May MOR told China Features that this had been scaled back to 2322km, and opening of the remaining lines might be postponed. Nevertheless, completion of these projects will extend the highspeed network to around 8400km. The first new line to open, Beijing Wuhan, will add 1125km to the network. The maximum design speed of the line is 350km/h and, in line with international practice to maintain a safety margin, trains will run at a maximum of 300km/h, says MOR. Nevertheless the journey time between Beijing and Wuhan in central China will be reduced from 10 hours to just four hours. The new Beijing - Wuhan line will
connect with the existing high-speed line running from Wuhan south to Shenzhen, adjoining Hong Kong, so that for the first time Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Shenzhen will be connected by high-speed trains. The second new line to open this year is the 293km Wuhan - Yichang section of the Shanghai - Wuhan - Chengdu line, which has a design speed of 200km/h. This will be followed by the completion of this major artery connecting the country’s developed east and less-developed mountainous western region, which will allow trains to average 200km/h. Wuhan will then become a new hub of the high-speed network. Finally, the 904km Harbin - Shenyang - Dalian high-speed line, which runs
IRJ July 2012
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