Ministry unveils more details about Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway

08:38, June 30, 2011      

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As the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, with a total investment of 220.9 billion yuan, will begin operations on June 30, China's Ministry of Railways held a special press conference on June 27 to answer certain hot questions concerning various aspects of the railway, such as its safety, technical standards and profitability.

Speed lowered not for safety concerns

The railway has a top speed of 350 kilometers per hour. Why was its operating speed set at 300 kilometers per hour and 250 kilometers per hour?

"The adjustments to the operating speed and operation mode of the railway were made to meet the people’s needs, to increase its transport capacity and economic benefits, and to reduce costs and energy consumption. It is not because the high-speed railway is unsafe," said He Huawu, chief engineer at the Ministry of Railways and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

He emphasized that the speed cut was not out of safety concerns. The main purpose of the speed cut was to meet the diversified needs of passengers at different income levels, said Li Jun, director of the general affairs office of the transportation bureau under the Ministry of Railways.

The railway has a top speed of 350 kilometers per hour and is 1,318 kilometers long, equivalent in length to a railway passing through five to six European countries. Furthermore, the railway was built with the world's highest construction standards.

The railway consumed 60 million cubic meters of quality concrete, twice the amount of concrete used in the Three Gorges Dam; 32,000 piers, each of which is several floors high, and more than 29,000 900-ton box girders. The amount of steel used in the railway was 120 times the amount used in the Beijing National Stadium. In addition, the entire quality-control process was conducted through computers.

"The content, source, destination and usage of every cubic meter of concrete were strictly recorded on computers. The data could not be modified," said Xia Jijun, chief engineer at the department of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway under China Railway 14th Bureau Group.

In order to ensure safe operation, nearly 6,000 trains have conducted test runs on the railway since Nov. 15, 2010, with the total length of the test runs exceeding 2 million kilometers. The railway subgrade has encountered a maximum settlement of 2 millimeters, and the piers and abutments have encountered a maximum settlement of 1 millimeter, well below the international standard level of 15 millimeters.

The railway has also adopted high safety standards, with nearly 2.9-meter-high fence nets installed along the entire line. There are 31 seismic sensors, 167 wind speed sensors, 50 rainfall sensors, 18 railway police station, and 652 duty booths along the way. Every kilometer of the railway will be carefully patrolled by one security person to ensure smooth and safe operation.

In response to whether the operating speed of the trains on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway will be raised in the future, He said, "It is feasible for EMU trains to run at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway in terms of technology, rail, security and operation, and whether or not the speed will be raised will depend on the passenger flow and demand."

Utmost concern is safety

Liang Jianying, assistant chief engineer of CSR Qingdao Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company and chief designer of the CRH380AL model, said, "Our utmost concern is safety instead of speed when designing EMU trains for the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway."

In terms of braking capacity, when EMU trains run at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, they will take only about one minute to safely stop in case of emergency braking with a buffering distance of 3,800 meters.

In terms of anti-derailment, EMU train CRH-380AL set a new world record of 490 kilometers per hour at a leading section of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway during a test run in December 2011. When the train ran at such a critical speed, its derailment coefficient, wheel lateral force coefficient and wheel unloading rate, which are the three major indicators used to measure the safely level of trains, stood at 0.13, 15 and 0.67 respectively, only 16 percent, 31 percent and 84 percent of their respective safety limit.

"The safety margins are wide compared with the safety limits, signifying that EMU trains enjoy outstanding safety and stability indicators," said He.

The safety indicators of the EMU trains for the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway remained excellent during 2 million kilometers of follow-up tests. As the operating speeds of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway are set at 250 and 300 kilometers per hour, the rail will have sufficient safety margins.

In terms of impact resistance, the locomotives of the EMU trains are equipped with bulletproof, decelerating glass made of three-layer armored glass. Even if the train running at a speed of 580 kilometers per hour is hit by a one-kilogram aluminum ball, the locomotive glass will only be cracked rather than be smashed into pieces.

In terms of intelligence, EMU trains can automatically diagnose faults and automatically sound warnings or protect themselves according to different fault modes so as to enhance their proactive protection capacities. For instance, if a driver does not press the "Vigilance Device for Drivers" button, the button will automatically sound a warning. If the driver does not make any response within several seconds, the control system within the train will automatically make the train stop. Thus, even if the driver faints, the train can automatically protect itself.

Sun Bangcheng, chief engineer of the Tangshan Railway Vehicle Corporation under the China CNR Corporation, said that trains of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway possess about two hours of self-supply power and the ventilated function, which can allow the faulty train to have enough time to wait for rescue. The fire protection system in carriages will be automatically activated when fire breaks out to ensure that the fire will not spread to neighboring carriages in 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the train can also bear off bridges and tunnel sections that are inaccessible to rescue with a speed of 80 kilometers per hour in 10 minutes after a fire breaks out.

In fact, EMUs of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway are closely monitored by the signal system. Song Xiaofeng, administrative deputy general manager of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Project Department under the China Railway Signal and Communication Corporation and vice president of the Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signal and Communication, said that trains of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway are equipped with the GSM-R (global system for mobile communications for railway) wireless mobile data networks, which can automatically track trains and transmit related data to the dispatching center every 50 seconds.

The dispatching system of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway also draws on the lessons of Japan's Kobe earthquake. There are a total of 13 wireless ground-launched centers, also known as the "second-class dispatching center," along the line. Trains can receive the dispatching command through these 13 centers if the general dispatching center is out of control.

China completely mastering the independent intellectual property rights

There are rumors that the high-speed trains of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway are actually the prototype trains of Japan and Germany with the speed of 200 to 300 kilometers per hour, and the speed was artificially increased to 350 kilometers per hour even to 380 kilometers per hour regardless the safety margin of trains.
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