Qingdao: Town of High-speed Rail

The EMU assembly workshop of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd.

With the help of a computer, several technicians are debugging a “Fuxing” electric multiple unit (EMU) train at the assembly workshop of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. Known as the newest model of China’s high-speed bullet trains, Fuxing EMUs travel at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour, with top speeds hitting the 400-kilometer mark.

“Averagely, 22 EMU trains roll off our assembly line every month,” said Zhang Fangtao, chief designer of the Fuxing EMU in the company. According to him, the research of Fuxing EMUs began in 2012. After numerous tests in a couple of years that followed, it was first put into operation on the Beijing-Shanghai Railway in June 2017.

“A lot of innovations have been made to improve the Fuxing train’s reliability and safety,” Wang noted. “Compared to the previous generations, the windshield of the operator’s cabin becomes larger with the increase of designed speed. Moreover, it is further reinforced to resist bird strikes or crash by small stones.”

This June, Qingdao, the host city of the 2018 summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), has become a center of attention worldwide. Before that, the coastal city already gained fame as a cradle of high-speed rail, one of China’s “four great new inventions.”

The operator’s cabin of a Fuxing EMU train.

In September 2017, China’s National Technology Innovation Center for High-speed Trains was set up in Qingdao, injecting more impetus into the city’s high-speed rail industry. Currently, Qingdao is home to more than 120 key rail transportation enterprises, including CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. and Bombardier Inc. The city provides about 60 percent of the country’s EMU trains that are put into operation every year, as well as 20 percent of light-rail trains.

Ahmed Zidan from Jordan was deeply impressed as he visited the EMU assembly workshop of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. “I’ve stayed in China for nine years and taken high-speed trains many times,” he said. “Indeed, China has developed very fast over the years.”

One factor driving the country’s rapid development is technological innovation. As a leading manufacturer of bullet trains, CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. has established a national EMU engineering research center and a national key laboratory of high-speed rail system integration, and cultivated more than 2,000 technicians.

Taking construction of the Belt and Road as an opportunity, the Qingdao-based company has gone further to introduce its high-speed train products to more countries including the United States, Singapore, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. In addition, the company has established overseas R&D centers in countries like Germany and Thailand, in a bid to build a global innovation system.

“Innovation is the key to the ‘golden gate’ of high-speed rail,” said Liang Jianying, chief engineer of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. The company has joined hands with 15 enterprises, universities and research institutions to launch the research of high-speed maglev trains that run 600 kilometers per hour.

Liang said that the research of maglev trains with a speed of 600 kilometers per hour is vital to improving China’s high-speed transportation network and further cutting the country’s edge in the field of rail transportation.

Upholding the Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, the SCO summit in the coastal city of Qingdao is expected to consolidate a community with a shared future for humanity. Riding this tide, Qingdao’s high-speed rail industry will definitely see a bright future by cooperating with countries around the world.

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