China's high-speed rail may link 17 nations (2)

08:33, March 12, 2010      

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Technology edge

China began purchasing high-speed rail technology in 2004 from France, Japan, Can-ada and Germany.

Six years later, China has developed its own high-speed rail systems, which run at over 350 kilometers per hour.

The high-speed rail line between Beijing and Tianjin, which started service in August 2008, was the first such train in China.

The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway came into use late last year. It runs 990 kilometers between the Central China city and the booming industrial hub in the south, reducing the standard 12-hour-long trip to only three hours.

These are just two of 42 high-speed lines projected for completion in the country by 2012.

"For China, high-speed railways are both necessary and affordable," Lu said. "Its fast development is boosted by the country's domestic demand, stable financing and a sustain-ability-oriented development mode.

"The country's urbanization process offered opportunities for the massive construction of railway networks," he said, adding that a network of high-speed railways would dramatically "shrink" the country.

According to the plan proposed by the railways ministry, the country's total railway coverage will be more than 110,000 kilometers by 2012, with 13,000 kilometers being high-speed railway, forming the world's largest high-speed railway network.

Wang expects that China may spearhead a new global wave of railway development, and with that the ability to grab a big share of international markets with its cutting-edge safe technologies and low construction costs that will compete with the pioneers in the field, Japan and Germany.

"India would be our top target market in the future. And we are currently negotiating with the US, Russia and Poland," Wang said. "High-speed railways will become another brand of Made-in-China."

Japan, which first implemented a high-speed railway in 1964, has expressed concern that it wasted its chance to be a dominant player in the market.

Although Japanese railway technology is "one of the best in the world, it has failed to find its way into overseas markets," said an editorial in Japan's The Asahi Shimbun on February 1.

"The technology was so bent on Japanese standards that it developed in a very insular way. The rail industry has been very inward-looking," it said.

Deng Jingyin and Qiu Wei contributed to this story

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