China to accelerate development of railway tech

China aims to accelerate research and development of key core technologies and application-oriented technological innovations this year, with a focus on developing a faster bullet train capable of traveling at 450 kilometers per hour and intelligent high-speed rail technologies, said Liu Zhenfang, the president of China State Railway Group, which operates the national railway system.

Liu, who is also a deputy to the 14th National People’s Congress, said the company will continue to promote independent research and the industrial application of key core technologies this year, enhancing self-reliance in railway technology.

“Technological innovation can foster new industries, new models and new momentum,” he said. “It is the core element for developing new quality productive forces.

“China’s high-speed railways are a successful example of independent innovation in our country, and the overall technological level of China’s railways has entered the forefront of the world.”

The group plans to unveil a more advanced bullet train, the CR450-with a top operating speed of 400 km/h and an experimental speed of up to 450 km/h — by next year.

It plans to complete a prototype this year and begin testing.

Liu said achievements in promoting self-reliance in railway technology had been made last year.

“In 2023, the alliance to promote science and technology innovation in the railway sector was established,” he said. “The CR450 science and technology innovation project has achieved major breakthroughs.”

Last year, bullet trains traveled at speeds of 453 km/h on test runs in Fujian province, collecting data on trains running at different speeds on tracks that include tunnels, bridges and curves.

Currently, the fastest bullet trains in China operate at speeds of 350 km/h along several lines, including the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway and the Beijing-Tianjin High-Speed Railway.

A train traveling at 400 km/h would shorten the journey from Beijing to Shanghai to 2.5 hours.

Liu also said China aims to achieve technological breakthroughs to improve operational safety, enhancing key equipment and infrastructure.

“Research efforts will be increased in the application of cutting-edge technologies in the field of railways,” he said.

“We’ll focus on promoting the system’s informatization and network security and enhancing the construction of digital railways. We’ll also carry out the standardization, interconnection and sharing of railway information systems, aiming to empower the innovative development of railways through digital intelligence.”

By the end of last year, China’s national railway network extended for 159,000 km, including 45,000 km of high-speed lines. About 80 percent of China’s planned high-speed railway network has been completed, with a further 15 percent under construction.

“China’s overall level of railway infrastructure has reached the forefront globally, providing the foundation and conditions for further advancement toward a higher level of modernization,” Liu said.

He said China aims to have 165,000 km of track by the end of next year, 50,000 km of which will be high-speed.

According to the national plan, by 2035, the railway network in China will reach 200,000 km, with about 70,000 km of high-speed lines, including some high-speed inter-city railways.

Kehinde Olusegun

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