Editorial Office Address: 2 Daliushu Road, Xizhimenwai, Beijing
Phone +86 10 63249182, fax +86 10 63224229
It is an interesting publication. A one year subscription costs US 16. Postage (surface mail) US $ 5.21, airmail 38.46. To be ordered from Export Department, China National Publications Import&Export Corporation, 16 Gongti East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100020, China. Fax +86 10 65063101. Bank account 40110462 Business Department, Bank of China.
It is full of technical papers, describing progress in China Railways and even local railways. The named issue contains a lot of stuff on higher speed passenger services, upgrading of the railway lines for higher speed services, the locomotive production program, track maintenance, difficulties with a long tunnel in Southern China, new ideas for railway management etc. The language is for the most part good English, clear and understandable.
The Magazine is directed at a technical readership. It seems to
be quite open about problems the Chinese Railways have, and about
plans and solutions and their respective evaluation. Most of this
issue is about improving the speed of Chinese trains by various
means, both better signaling, new rolling stock and the use of
tilting trains. There are a also a few papers about problems of
track maintenance and management of building of new lines. One
interesting paper is about the problems with water and silt
breaking into a long tunnel in Southern China, a problem of the
same kind, of not worse, than the problems which have hit the new
Norwegian Oslo Airport link railway.
One paper has the title: «Raising Speeds on Existing Chinese Railway Lines»
It reviews the experiences with high speed operations on the Shanghai to Nanjing line 303 km long. The traffic started on April 1, 1996 with one pAir of trains running at a maximum speed of 140 km/h. Configuration of the trains, as I can conclude from a picture, is DF11 plus generator car plus 11 double deck cars. The background for he high speed trains is a newly opened expressway which has reduced traveling time buy bus to about three hours, one hour less than the passenger trains.
The paper describes the measures taken for increasing the speed. They include general upgrading of the tracks, installation of systems to protect unmanned level crossings, extension of signal distances in front of manned level crossings, and staff training.
Travel time for the first high speed train was 2 hours 48 minutes (now 2.47 to 2.50). In addition, the speed of other trains was raised (if not to a such high extent). Between Shanghai and Nanjing, there is now a passenger train about every 20 minutes during daylight hours.
The paper says explicitly: «With competition in the transport market intensifying and railway market share shrinking, especially due to serious challenge from expressways, it is imperative to raise train speed.» (... even in China, isn't that interesting!...) The high speed service is popular and generates a profit. The line generates about 3 billion RMB in passenger revenue per year. In 1996, passenger train revenues accounted for 8..9% of the total revenues of this line.
Higher speed, however, creates some problems. Line capacity for
freight goes down. It is therefore emphasized in different papers
in this issue that freight train speed must be raised to 80 to 85
km/h and that the number of trains per hours must be increased.
Another paper is titled «Expediting the Development of High quality, High strength Rail to Meet the Requirements of Increased Speeds and Heavy haul Transport».
Most interesting to us is probably not what the plans are, as they are more or less the same as western railways are implementing. Interesting facts:
Average throughput of Chinese railway lines in 1996 was 30 million ton kilometer per line kilometer. In 1996, 30.000 kilometer of 60km/m rail was laid, accounting for 40% of the total length of main lines. 50 kg/m rails accounted for 30.000 km and 48% of the total main line length. In addition, 75 kg/m and 43 kg/m rail exists. China railways is developing new types of 60 kg/m rails, some hardened, some with vanadium alloy. The paper mostly speaks about requirements for better rails and track structure.
An interesting paper is «Thinking about Reform in the Management of Railway Construction in China».
The paper speaks openly about trouble they have had in managing
the construction of railway lines. There have been problems with
hastily building lines where engineering work has barely been
completed before construction, where traffic levels failed to meet
expectations, design departments that sometimes do nothing, and at
other times work overtime, too much use of manual drawing instead
of CAD, and hopeless structures in construction companies,
inherited from the stage of a planned economy, and quality
problems and high cost resulting from this. Basically the paper
advocates the introduction of the same type of construction
management as is used in Western countries.
Amongst other points, The production program for high speed diesel and electric locomotives:
1997: 43 DF11, 35 SS8, 150 DF4D
1998: 45 DF11, 120 SS8, 135 DF4D
1999: 20 DF11, 60 SS8, 135 DF4D
2000: 20 SS8, 90 DF4D
(Remark added in 2001: In October 2000, I saw DF11, serial numbers above 200, manufactured in 2000 - so more are being produced!)
SS8 is a BoBo electric loco, 3600kW, 170 km/h, weight 88 tons
DF4D is a CoCo Diesel, 2940 kW, 138 ton, 132 km/h
DF11 is a CoCo Diesel, 138 ton, 3610 kW, 170 km/h
There is also a prototype DF10F CoCo+CoCo, 2*2200kW, 160 km/h, weight 2*120 ton.
DF11 and SS8 are for high speed passenger trains, to be operated
at 140 to 160 km/h, DF4D are for all other "fast" passenger
trains, to be operated at 120 km/h.
The High speed lines will be Beijing-Shanghai, Beijing-Guangzhou, Beijing-Harbin and Lianyungagng-Xian-Lanzhou. All these lines have been upgraded during 1996 and 97, and are to be finished this year. Probably also Xuzhou-Zhengzhou and Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo will be upgraded before 2000.
Even all freights on these lines shall be run at increased speed of 80 to 85 km/h, and cars not fit for these speeds shall be forbidden on these lines. The signaling and the whole infrastructure are upgraded, and distance between trains shall be decreased to 7 minutes between trains instead of 8 minutes.
Back to top of this page
End of 1997: 11637 km of lines
Plan end of 1999: 16.200 km
Plan for 2010: 20.000 km
(cited by Cai Qinghua, Vice Minister, Ministry of Railways
Problems with electrification, described in the same issue:
A relatively low level of technical understanding, resulting in electrified lines that are good enough for low speed traffic, but less reliable and more maintenance requiring than international standard. China has not yet the technology for electrification of high speed lines. The magazines urges to increase efforts to acquire that technology.
Numbers for 1997 1996
Freight volume in Mt 1,628 1,617
(of this coal traffic) 703 720
Freight turnover in Gt*km 1,304 1,292
Passengers in billion pass-km 352 332
Average freight locomotive km/day 429 422
Freight locomotive output/day in Mt*km 0.945 0.93
Freight car turnaround time in days 4.57 4.48
Employees: 3.345.000 at end of 1997, down 0.3 % from 1996.
Export of locomotives
As of 30 June 1997 China has exported or on export contract a
total of 1000 locomotives, of which 83 are diesel, 12 electric
(for Iran), and 5 steam (who knows where these steamers went to?).
To me these numbers seem to be the total ever exported, not just in 1997.
It is mentioned that 6 diesels have gone to Myanmar, 2 to Thailand, 30 to Nigeria
It is not clear to me if the export locomotives are contained in the numbers for 1996 and 1997 mentioned above.
Information about lines under construction or just constructed:
Nanning-Kunming went into traffic on Dec 2, 1997.
The line from Korla to Kashi in Xinjiang has reached Xinhe. The total line shall be completed until March 2000 (it actually was in May 1999). There is an article about that line in the magazine. It is constructed as single track line, max. grade 5 per thousand, min radius 800 meter.
Xi'anAnkang is still under construction
The track between Daxian and Chengdu is completed since Nov. 18, 1997 and trial operation has begun.
Houma-Yueshan is electrified
Construction has started on:
Shuoxian-Huanghua, Daxian-Wanxian, Liupanshui-Baiguo, Wuhu Yangtze bridge
Electrification is partly completed and continuing on the
Beijing-Zhengzhou, Zhuzhou-Guiding, Baotou-Lanzhou (all of this will release many diesel engines...)
Sand problems on the Xining-Golmud line
There is an interesting paper about sand damage and control measures for this line (in the paper called Xining-Lhasa line). Part of the line runs through desert with prevailing high winds and frequent sand storms. It is mentioned that sometimes a storm may pile up 40 to 60 cm of sand on the rails. Other problems include abrasion, blocking of switches, sand destruction on moving parts of locomotives and cars, reduced visibility, blocking of ditches and small bridges which are intended to lead away water from the few heavy rainfalls. Measures include fences, plantation, putting large stones on the sandy ground and more. Somehow the problems partly remind me on the problems we have in Norway on our mountain lines, just here it is snow, not sand, piling up in winter.
Otherwise it is to mention that two pictures include a steam
headed working train on the Nanning-Kunming line, and the Swedish
made X2000 train at high speed somewhere in China.
Back to top of this page
Cao Jing, General Director of Planning Department, Ministry of Railways
Total planned investment in railway construction: 250 billion RMB (50 billion annually) (compares to 155.8 billion RMB in 1993-97)
Money is not only for line building and electrification, there
are other planned improvements also, including better signaling,
centralized control and higher speed.
The following projects are planned:
Guangzhou-Changsha-Wuhan 911 km
Shenmu — Suozhou — new line straight east to Huanghua harbor
Dalian-Shenyang -Changchun-Harbin - electric traction north of
Shenyang from September 2001, south of Shenyang from 30 NOvember
Harbin-Shenyang(-Dalian) : Inaugural train Shenyang-Harbin ran on August 18th 2001 (as expected), hauled by an SS8 electric. Datong and Zhuzhou locomtive works are going to build 230 electrics for the whole line from Dalian to Harbin. Classes include SS4, SS8, SS9 and SS10. Catenary is a modified version of the German Re200 catenary (called Re200C), designed for 200km/h along the whole line (excluding side tracks with 100km/h). 14 substations have been built along the line. They are controlled by an remote control station in Shenyang.
Double tracking: (2580 km)
Baotou - Shizuishan - Mostly done in Oct 2000
Yangpingguan-Chengdu 396 km
Liupanshui - Zhuzhou 873 km
Xinxiang - Rizhao
Xinyi - Lianyungang
High speed passenger lines:
Beijing-Tianjin-Jinan-Nanjing-Shanghai (about 1300 km)
Qinhuangdao-Shenyang 422 km
Shenyang-Qinhuangdao High Speed Line : Due for completion until late 2002. Work is underway. Electric equipment is the same as for Harbin-Dalian. Line speed (both track and catenary) will be 200km/h with 20km designed for 300km/h (!!!). The line will be the first one in China for passenger trains exclusively.
New lines (total 5340 km)
Korla-Kashi 975 km
Shenchi-Yuanping-Jining-Huanghua harbor 587 km
Xian-Nanyang-Xinyang-Huangchuan-Hefei-Nanjing 1129 km
Xian-Ankang 268 km
Suining-Chongqing passenger railway line (to shorten travel time Chengdu-Chongqing from 10 to 4 hours)
Yibin-Liupanshui-Hongguo 370 km
A short line from Kunming westwards (maybe 100 km)
Yiyang-Loudi-Lengshuitan 247 km
Xinyi-Yancheng-Wuxi (on Nanjing-Shanghai line) — Changxing 638.6 km, last rail liad on Sept 28, 2001. 120 km/h operation.
Yantai-Dalian railway ferry
New bridge over Yangtse river at Wuhu
Neijiang-Yibin-Kunming line : Construction started in 1998, completed Sept 2001. Electric traction is used.
New line from Xinyi via Linyi to Qingdao
Double tracking Liuzhou-Lengshuitan
China-Kyrgistan : A new line from Kashi (Xinxiang province) to Kyrgistan, crossing though Usbekiztan is planned. Construction will start in 2002.
Back to top of this page
Chinese Railways no. 1 / 1999 features several papers about high speed lines and equipment. On its title page it displays an EMU called DDJ1 001, intended for experiments for 200 km/h traffic, probably on the test loop near Beijing.
The issue shows several pictures from the Nanning-Kunming line . They are probably taken with the official opening train, which is, strange enough, hauled by a double DF1. Judging from the pictures, the line is either electrified or being electrified, and single track. Pictures show new bridge constructions with longer spans, describe tunnel construction and anchor walls in steep slopes.
One paper discusses the planned high speed line from Beijing to Shanghai. Traffic on the existing line is near the capacity. It is therefore planned to build a new high speed line for passenger trains only and use the existing line for freight only. Because of bad ground, it is planned to lay about 33% of the line on bridges! (Even if the line runs in flat terrain). The line will cross the Yellow river by a bridge, but for the Yangtse, they are discussing either a bridge or a tunnel.
The line is designed for speeds up to 350 km/h (!). It is planned to import high speed trains trains for 300 km/h and the electrical equipment otherwise. But the trains for "medium speed" (200 km/h) shall be developed in China.
Another paper publishes the test results with the SS8 locomotive on its test runs up to 240 km/h. The general impression is that the locomotive performed well within safety limits.
A very interesting paper is the one by Tong Anyan, General Director of the Train Operation Bureau, Ministry of Railways. It is called "Basic Guidelines and Measures for Improving Railway Transport". Behind this seemingly boring title there is dynamite. The defines five main problems the Chinese Railways are struggling with and which need a lot of improvement:
1 — Too high and chaotic rates for freight transportation
2 — Too low service quality
3 — The lack of a marketing system
4 — Serious quality problem with some equipment
5 — The need to update rules and regulations
6 — Inadequate quality of some of the work force
7 — Transport resources are not able to meet market needs
He then gives an overview of tasks to be done in order to improve. Very much of that sounds exactly as the measures taken by West European Railways during the past 10 to 20 years. Most of the problems addressed could be solved by better management.
A few examples for the problems mentioned:
1 — There is a low base charge for freight, but then the stations passed on the way add extra charges. These can be quite high and seem to be unpredictable. This sometimes leads to far higher prices than road transport.
2 — The difficulties for passengers in obtaining tickets. No return tickets, the selling of tickets through dark channels/ black market (Places are available, but tickets not…), the still regional nature of the computerized reservation system, not enough water in trains (added in 2001: they have invested heavily in this now, refilling many places on the way), dirty toilets (!), no announcements and apologies for delays, lack of door to door service for freight, unpredictable arrival time for freight, unpredictable time for arrival of freight cars for loading, rough and careless loading and unloading, problems with the pay of compensation after damage of goods, the amount of freight theft.
3 — Marketing departments have only been set up in three regions, and they have generally not much to say.
4 — There are problems with the roadbeds, even on main lines. (No wonder in a country where much of the ground is clay or mud). Failures of rolling stock such as wheel rim cracks, hot boxes, split pins, brake hanger bolts. Problems also occur with the material used for higher speeds. Many of the problems are due to bad maintenance.
5 — Rules and regulations are from the time when speed was lower. Newer rules exist but are not properly integrated into the whole.
6 — The service provided by some of the fast train crews does not meet the requirement for premium service on these trains.
7 — Still the transport capacity of the railways is inadequate. It is difficult to get the right freight cars in time. Opposite, sometimes there are freight cars but no freight. Marketing is not informed about capacity restrictions either.
In general, this paper shows that high level management is aware
of the problems and is addressing them. Let us hope we see
improved quality, especially in the ticketing area in the the
cleanliness of passenger trains!
Statistics from China Rail, 1998: (More statistics see here.)
Passenger traffic rose to 929.91 million passengers, increased by 1.1%, 369.1 person-km, increase of 4.2%.
Freight deceased by 5.4% to 1.532 Mt (the decrease is mostly due to less coal transport).
Total ton-km is 1.599 billion, decreased by 3.7%
Total freight ton-km is 1.266 billion, a decrease of 6%.
Average freight train load was 2633 ton
28 serious or major accidents.
Construction ended, amongst others, on the Nanning-Kunming line, the Beijing to Zhengzhou electrification, and construction of the Jinghua-Wenzhou line, the Shimen-Changsha line, Guangtong-Dali line and Hengfeng-Nanping line.
Total construction investment was 56.25 billion Yuan. (7.18 billion thereof were from local and joint venture railways).
Rolling stock was bought for 11.91 billion Yuan.
Renovation and upgrading cost 13.83 billion Yuan.
697 diesel and 255 electric locomotives were produced in 1998.
1576 new passenger cars and 23571 new freight cars were produced.
Steam is now down to 6% of the total tractive work provided.
1548 locomotives were repaired, 943 diesel, 84 electric and 521 steam engines. (This probably means heavy overhaul in the workshops).
The number of employees was 3.176 million, a decrease of 5%.
Back to top of this page
China rail is constructing this new line. It will be 405 km long,
of which 371 km are new, and the remaining rebuilt. Planned
capacity more than 100 pairs of trains per day. Train speed will
be 160 km at opening and after a period of running 200 km/h. The
line will be double track electrified. No fixed signals, but
continuous signalling in the cab. Max load for passenge rtrains
will be 860 tons. Curve radius will be 3000 to 3500 m, and max
grade 12 promille. Effective length of station tracks 650 m. Only
at the start and end sections the radius can be down to 1000 or
even 400 meters. The line will have 12 stations. 15% is on
bridges. No tunnels. Trains running at 120 km/ or less will be
restricted to the old line. Investment is 14.78 billion RMB, and
the line shall be completed in four years (judging from the
publication date, this should be 2003). The line is designed for
ease of upgading to even higher speeds in the future.
General speed increase
Analysis done by China rail shows that higher speed passenger services are popular and increase the income of Chjina rail. They are actively researching possibilities to increase speed not only on main lines, but also elsewhere. One of the problems they are addressing in the Magazine is the problem of switches, some of which restrcit speed. They have also done test runs at higher speeds than normal in curves and found that higher speeds are possible many places. One of the problems until now is the caluation of running times between stations, which are rounded up to the next minute. According to the magazine they plan to calculate times more precisely, and round only to the next 15 or 30 seconds.
Long term goals for train running times are, for example:
Beijing- Xining 28 hours
Beijing-Lanzhou 24 hours
Beijing-Chengdu 28 hours
Beijing - Chongqing 28 hours
Beijing - Guangzhou 21h30
Beijing - Xiamen 34 hours
Shanghai - Guangzhou 20 h
Shanghai - Chengdu 33h30
Shanghai - Shenyang 20 h
Shanghai - Lanzhou 28 h
Guangzhou-Kunming 36 h
Guangzhou - Chengdu 36 h
Guangzhou - Tianjin 26h
Guangzhou - Hefei 24 h
China Rail statistics first half year of 1999 versus first half year of 1998 (More statistics see here.)
General trend: More passengers, long passenger travel, more income from passengers. More freight and freight income, but more empty wagon travel lenght, and more low paid freight, less high paid freight. In freight, its the same tendency as in Europe: High paying good take the road. But they are successful in container traffic.
Here the numbers:
481 million passengers travelled, 3.1% over 1998 number, which
again was 1.5% over 1997.
This increase was higher than for water and air transport.
Freight volume 774 million ton transported, up 2.6% from 1998 (but in first half of 1998 it was down 5.9%). Especially more container freight. (increase 22.5%).
Turnover total was 824 Gtkm, increase 3.6%.
Avergae passengter transport lenght 419.5 km, 13 km up from 1998, 202 Billion passenger-km, 6.3% increase. Freight had an average shipping distance of 803 km, increase 1.6 km, and total was 622.3 Gtkm, increase of 2.8% (better than increase for road shipments!)
Revenues in first half year of 1999:
49.14 billion RMB, increase of 8.2%. (16.4 Billion for passengers, increase 12.5%, from freight 25.8 Billion, increase of 4.9%)
Avergae daily distance by locomotives was 438 km adn 966.000 ton-km, up 2.3%. Locomotives schedules were improved, but also the phasing out of steam locomotives aand stepped up electricifcation has its share.
Avergae speed of freight trains was 32.1 km/h, up 0.5 km/h. Car idle time reduced to 23.1 hours. Avergae stopover time (at junctions, freight yeards etc.) was 4.9 hours, down 0.3 hours, Freight car turnaround time 5.48 days, down 0.2 days. Generally, the freight sector is more efficient than before.
There was a marked drop in high paid freight.
Average income per ten thousand ton km was 417 Yuan on first quarter, 44 yauin in second quarter. A significant decline in coal shipments. Avergae lenght of loaded car transpot was 862 km, emty cars 1183 km. Empty cars are 37.2%, a rise from 33.7 % in 1998. Some districts are just shipping out empty cars, in order not to be charged empty car fees.
For passenger service the spring festival traffic was especially
mentioned. It seems like the railways did a good job there.
Back to top of this page
One paper was about new line and improvement projects and other high technology projects .
One paper was about strategies for building information systems.
Three papers discussed light rail and subway systems for Chongqing, Tianjin and one other city.
There were traffic statistics from first half year of 2000. The
general trend is upwards, but freight traffic is still hindered by
too low capacity on the main lines. (More statistics see here.)
Back to top of this page
There is a lot of information about the new line to Tibet, as well as the projects to be built in the 10th five year plan (2001 to 2005. I have summarized that at other places on this web page. Here are a few points, however.
The line from Harbin to Manzhouli is being upgraded for 8 billion Yuan during 2001 to 2005. Most of this is for capacity increase.
Qinhuangdao-Shenyang high speed line is being electrified since Oct 16, 2001. The line should be opened in 2003. The Beijing - Shanghai high speecd line is planned but construction has not yet started. China Railways magazine argues for a traditional railway system, however, there are discussions about building it with German maglev technology. The line is being discussed in very general terms: "should be built as soon as possible", which probably refers to them discussing how to build it.
There are still problems with freight capacity, part of it aggravated because of the increase in speed of passenger trains. This had led to the plan to introduce 25 tons axle load and 6000 tons freight trains on main lines. 25 tons axle load is possible on the existing main lines and their bridges. With the existing trac k lenght of 1050 meters in most main line stations, trains cannot be extended beyond 5000 tons without increasing axle loads. Prototype cars have been produced and tested, and we should see a gradual shift to production of new heavy haul cars.
There is a summary about trackage: In general, main lines now use 60 kg/m or heavier rail, and the length of continuously welded rail is increasing fast.
Track laying on Xian to Nanjing railway started on Oct 13, 2001.
China-Uzbekistan: From Kashi - Kyrgyzstan - Andizhan in Uzbekistan. 500 km long. The line should be built, but they are probably still discussing the exact alignment.
Diesel locomotives manufactured 671 624
El locomotives manufac tures 295 295
Steam 1 0
Diesel locomotives repaired 897 1019
electric 78 78
steam 353 211
Several articles were about the line to Tibet, its building standards and environment protection. There was a lot of interesting information about building in permafrost regions.
One article told about signalling on higher speed lines. Currect signals can only signal three aspects. It is discussed to increase that to four aspects. However, above 160 km/h, cab signalling must have priority before line signalling.
One article mentioned that hump yards muust be automated. Many such yards are already automated, but the last larger ones will be automated soon.
One article told about the development of EMUs and DMUs in China, especially the ones of higher speed. Part of the trouble is thaqt the test track at Beijing only allows 160 km/h. Higher speeds must be tested along the line. China is going the same way as Germany with motors all along the train in the newest EMUs. However, there are still reliability problems with the Chinese high speed multiple units.
One article told about the future of the Chinese locomotive industry. As of now, capacity is 1000 diesel and 450 electric engines per year. However, they are still behind the state of the art. The industry is reorganized into two groups, one northern and one southern. They compete. For example DF4D against DF8 and DF11, SS7 against SS8 and SS9, ...
One article discussed testing of the new turnouts for high speed lines. Such turnouts not only move the tongue, but also the heart piece of the point. Up to six motors are used, and points with up to 140 km/h in the round direction are built now. They have been tested with a train pulled by DF11.
The current investments and plans were discussed. The trouble is that they still have not enough money for investments, even if they build 1000 km per year, double track 1000 km per year and electrify 1000 km. Traffic is still increasing, and profit also, but they are loosing market share.
One article discusses the problems joint venture railways have. Some have low traffic and cannot pay the rent on their loans, some have trouble with bad contracts with the national railwas, so their cars may disappear for a while etc. There is a lot of issues to be clarified, and streamlining to be done. Some projects have been undertaken with too optimistic prognoses. (Maybe Sangendalai to Xilinhaote?).
There is a lot of small notes about line openings, new locomotives, export contracts, etc.
The magazine now has an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to my homepage