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back to article High-speed Chinese train kicks French, Japanese butt

China's new high-speed passenger-train service broke world speed records on its maiden run over the weekend. According to a report in Monday's Financial Times, the Harmony express train travelled from Guangzhou in Guangdong province to the central-China city of Wuhan - a distance of 1,100km (684mi) - in under three hours. The …

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Fail

For the amount of money that it cost to build the one train station, you could probably get most of an airport constructed. And then you could fly wherever you wished. As it stands, for $17 Billion you only get to go to two places.

Like most public transportation, only if you are going where the train or metro is headed is it convenient. Anywhere else and you are very poorly served.

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Can't post without a title.

Actually there's 14 stations already open, with 3 more under construction.

Plus it'll eventually (2012) form part of the Beijing-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway.

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dont agree

The last thing we want is china building more and more airports and introducing the corresponding aviation pollution aswell

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Virturs of trains unappreciated, eh?

Posted like a true American idiot who has probably can't remember when he last rode a train. Actually, it is airplanes that have vastly higher operating costs and most more difficulty serving intermediate points--unless they blow up in the sky and get scattered all over the intermediate points.

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@Time

>> For the amount of money that it cost to build the one train station, you could probably get most of an airport constructed. And then you could fly wherever you wished.

You might be able to fly wherever you want, but you can only land where there is a suitable runway - which isn't that many places for the new super jumbos.

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FAIL

", only if you are going where the train or metro is headed is it convenient"

I see. So you just ask the captain to divert the plane to where you want to go? Most people call that "hijacking"!

Trains, where properly funded and run (i.e. not the UK or USA) are much better for inter-city travel than aircraft. They are also better for freight, but again this relies on proper management and funding.

Meanwhile the UK throws millions in subsidy and our piss-poor rail companies and still pisses money away on a runway at Heathrow that we wouldn't need IF said (heavily subsidised) rail companies actually pulled their finger out and did their jobs properly.

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Anonymous Coward

At this speed...

...it won't matter much whether it's airborne or groundbased - any kind of serious mishap, explosive or not, is going to make it geography.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschede_train_disaster

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FAIL

Reply to post: FAIL

" And then you could fly wherever you wished."

Really? You mean the airport is your ultimate destination? Or that I can fly directly to my place of work?

"Like most public transportation, only if you are going where the train or metro is headed is it convenient"

And the plane goes where, exactly?

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WTF?

Public Transportation?

"Like most public transportation, only if you are going where the train or metro is headed is it convenient. Anywhere else and you are very poorly served."

Yes, that is true for air travel as well --- which is, in fact, another form of public transportation. Unless you're flying your own personal LearJet.

Look... if I can go 1000km in 3 hours, I'll have no problem with renting a car at the other end to get where I'm going. It will take you another 7 hours of driving to catch up to me (assuming you don't stop for dinner).

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Anonymous Coward

<o>""<o>

"which, like the new station in Guangzhou, is an inconvenient hour-long drive from the city center."

It's got to be called EasyTrain then.

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Boffin

Wowser

£71 first or £45 coach... for 684 miles?

London to Edinburgh is half the distance for a 50% longer time (assuming no strikes/leaves/rain/snow/sunshine/overcast/wind/cows/sheep/piss/poo delays the train), and runs to far more than those prices! I'd do a comparison but the pricing structure of the UK railways is beyond anyone without a few PhDs in theoretical maths...

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Compared with income though

... it's a bloomin' fortune.

My father-in-law earns around 2500RMB/month.

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the fare isn't for the journey

Actually the pricing structure is quite simple. Think of it as renting a place on the train. The longer the journey takes, the more the rent should be. Therefore when the train companies increase their fares they make the journeys take longer so you get the same number of hours for your money.

It's not about getting there any more.

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Anonymous Coward

But

Would YOU travel on it?

You just know that somewhere on the train or on it's track there's a small critical part welded together by some underpaid, poorly-trained (no pun) minion in a small tin shack .

Made in China

LOL

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Nope.

I say this with in intended racism or disrespect... No. I would not want to get into a Chinese made vehicle. Especially one that will be travelling at over 50km/h (and over 200km/h is way out).

That said, remember what "Made in Japan" meant before the 60's/70's...

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Boffin

Yes but

Yes the Japanese were terrible manufacturers way back when I were a lad.

Look at them now...

Difference is, China believes in lowest cost, lowest quality, lowest wage....

I just can't Johnny Chinaman getting to Nippons lofty heights, but then again.

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Anonymous Coward

so?

> a small critical part welded together by some underpaid, poorly-trained (no pun) minion in a small tin shack

I daresay the average Boeing or Airbus has its fair share of those, quite possibly from the same tin shack...

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Terminator

I for one

would (sadly) get on the Chinese train over one made in the UK any day...

The quality of their engineering seems to be increasing by the minute.

Not many people complain about the build quality of their IPhones or their Dyson.......

Their cars are starting to be built to meet NCAP 5 star ratings etc..

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quite right

LAst years, i bought a chinese made telescope (CELESTRON ASTOMASTER newtonian 130mm). at first sight, the thing looked right. after some time, collimated mirroir, the picture i got was awefull.

after many hours of thinking , i manage to understand that the primary mirroir , manufactured in china , was UGLY . yes ,it 's cheap , yes it look like a real telescope , but NO . this fucking mirroir isn't parabolised.

the primary piece is so crappy , you should better bought a good binocular .

morality ?

wait 20° years before buy some tech piece, coming from china. i wouldn't trust any critical piece coming from them.

few month ago, french evelator manufacturer, declared that , small piece used for interface was contaminated with urianium. LAWL . people put their finger on it etc ...

Lawl at china .

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Anonymous Coward

Hour long drive

Hour long taxi ride more like. Or one or more hours in the subway. And about the price, I reckon it competes rather well with any other mode. The new Chinese trains are the nicest I have been on. You got one thing right though; the US doesn't bear mentioning.

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Cars will compete with trains when I can read a book while driving

London to Endinburgh off peak return is about £186 first class and £107 standard. The journey time is a little under 5 hours. It might be possible to extract this information from the national rail enquiries web site. A very kind person has created a web site that works without hassle: http://traintimes.org.uk/

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FAIL

I see...

...and a return on a budget airline is about on third the price and takes half as long.

Way to go British railways! Woo! Remind me, how much subsidy does a budget airline gets from my pocket and how much do those incompetent morons who run our railways get?

When I get get on a train in (say) Newcastle and be in (say) London in around two hours, with a seat, not pay any more than a budget air-ticket and not pay any subsidy to the rail operator; then we can begin to think about considering them "acceptable". Not "good", not "excellent"; just "acceptable".

Thinking about - just fire the lot of them and hire the Swiss. Oh wait, didn't the Swiss said they wouldn't touch our rail system with a barge-pole due to massive under funding, ineptitude and corruption?

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I see...

" Remind me, how much subsidy does a budget airline gets from my pocket "

Quite a lot. The fuel is duty and VAT free. They aren't paying their way, so the tax they're not paying comes from your pocket and mine.

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Boffin

Why does this thing look Japanese/German?

Excuse me, but this train looks pretty much like one of the latest Japanese N series Shinkhansen.

In the video you could also see a train which looks like a third generation german ICE train.

So: Who built which train?

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Pirated design?

You can almost be assured the reason they look like Japanese and/or German trains is that Chinese engineers went and looked at the Japanese and German trains... Then simply copied the design.

And like all Chinese knockoffs, it works fine when you try it out the first 2 or 3 times... But then suddenly fails spectacularly when it comes down to using it for something serious.

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Anonymous Coward

The Germans build that new high speed train

in China because there is not enough space anymore in their own country

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Chinese tech transfer re trains

The Chinese high speed rail programme is doing JVs with all the major European train manufacturers to 'localise' the technology. The Japanese are also in there too. So no surprise if you get to see something that looks like a Shinkansen N700 or a Siemens Velaro. Because that's what they are.

Until next year, when they'll be rebadged and sold back to us for half the price. Ho-hum.

PS China already has the world's fastest train in regular public service - 431 km/h (267mph) maglev in Shanghai. This too used German technology (Transrapid - Siemens & ThyssenKrupp).

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What about physics?

Aerodynamics and physics dictate the more or less same high-speed train designs used all over the world...

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Good reason it looks like a Shinkasen N

The trains are N-Series Shinkansen. The Japanese won a bidding war with the French to supply the rolling stock.

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Boffin

That would be...

... because the "CRH2" is really a rebadged Shinkansen, and the "CRH3" is really a Siemens Velaro train. Hey, at least they actually bought them, unlike that blatant Transrapid-ripoff they tried to pull off years ago with stolen German tech. It looks like the Chinese gov't is playing nice now :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Railways_CRH2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Railways_CRH3

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Coat

Blergh

East Coast mainline does 135-ish normally, and it'll do up to 160+ iif it had in cab signalling (which wouldn't cost much fail), which is why we hold the world record for the fastest diesel train in the world (it's been ran at that with a closed line), beat that China.

But no seriously, have you looked at the size of China lately? Of course they need fast trains. I can get from NNG to KC in 1:26 and it's good enough for me, and not hugely far off TGV times.

That all being said it's easy to build something like that with slave labour, wonder how many people would complain if /we/ went to africa, scooped up a few thousand people and made them work for essentially nothing.

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We already did

only we had a more convenient source of labour in Ireland.

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Happy

Mmmmm

"wonder how many people would complain if /we/ went to africa, scooped up a few thousand people and made them work for essentially nothing."

Isn't that how the US cotton industry started? Of course the US railways were built with Chinese "slave" labour.

Whatever China's problems, the population get paid for working. Salaries may be low by western standards, but so are living costs.

By the way, Britain holds the world record for fastest steam train. That is about as relevant as fastest diesel in the modern world.

We also have been running 125-150 mph diesels on the main lines since the 80's but now the faster trains are electric. e.g. 140mph commuter trains and 186mph (300kph) Eurostar.

Like China, and unlike the US, we are a crowded land, but with short distances between cities so trains make far more sense than planes - shame we don't get the same level of investment.

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FAIL

however from TFA

"By contrast, the FT points out that it takes the US's Amtrak Acela Express three and a half hours to traverse the 300km from Boston to New York City - although that train has hit 217kph (135mph) in time trials."

So thats an average of 186 / 3.5 = 53 mph!

Wikipedia says:

70 mph (110 km/h) average

and also says:

Distance travelled: 456 mi (734 km)

Average journey time 7 hours

Which works out at 65mph!

Another source:

http://www.trainweb.org/tgvpages/acela.html

The Acela Express cuts the Boston - New York run to 3:23 (from 4 to 5 hours), and the New York to Washington run (the territory of Amtrak's 125 mph Metroliners until the introduction of Acela) to 2:45 from three hours.

Please reset your normality signal. Over.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Looks...

Apparently the (4 different) designs are based on trains by

Bombardier

Kawasaki Heavy Industries

Siemens

Alstrom (TGV, New Pendolino etc - ie most of Europes high speed designs )

which explains the looks

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I for one

look forward to China extending this all the way to Vienna. It must make more sense to move all those container loads of electric bicycles to Europe via train rather than ocean going ship.

Shortly afterwards I expect somebody to commission a new TV Play. "Murder on the Guangzhou Express"

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Boffin

Not really

Actually container ships are very fuel efficient - the problem is they are forced to burn the crap high sulphur fuel that no one else wants, because the oil companies can get higher prices for the good stuff by selling it for trucks and trains.

Imagine several trains per day with 10,000 containers each crossing, say, Khazakstan, to Vienna (why Vienna, it's hardly the centre of European trade?) That would put Somali pirates into perspective.

Horses for courses: Ships for large quantities long distances, Trains for medium quantities medium distances, and trucks for local distribution.

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Actually ... Hamburg

http://www.neurope.eu/articles/82168.php

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Re: I for one

"It must make more sense to move all those container loads of electric bicycles to Europe via train rather than ocean going ship"

I'm reasonably certain that sea freight is a pretty cheap and efficient way of transporting goods... its the long lead times that make it unpopular. These sorts of high-speed trains are more in competition with aircraft than with boats, and are a much nicer way to travel.

Unless of course you arrive waaaay out from the city you really want to be in... for example, Taiwan's high speed rail service is great for getting from north to south but the added transit times from the intermediate stations to the towns they serve make it far more practical just to take the normal rail service instead and get out in the city centres.

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Boffin

Rotterdam might be better

It is Europe's largest container port, has road, rail and sea links all over Europe, and doesn't ice up in winter.

Actually our service from Shanghai (Beijing is inland) to Hamburg takes 23 days, so 15 days for the train isn't that impressive, especially in competition with airfreight at 1 day.

Unfortunately the article doesn't say how many containers the trains carry. 10,000 x 20 foot container capacity is common now for container ships, and getting bigger. A train carrying that would be nearly 40 miles long.

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Responses

"airplanes that have vastly higher operating costs and most more difficulty serving intermediate points--unless they blow up in the sky and get scattered all over the intermediate points."

Rather poor taste there Ms. Jacobs! :-O

"it's easy to build something like that with slave labour, wonder how many people would complain if /we/ went to africa, scooped up a few thousand people and made them work for essentially nothing."

Isn't that how the US built their original railways..? :-D

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Anonymous Coward

actually...

I think the Chinese built them...

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also with cheap chinese labour

We did the same thing in Canada

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Anonymous Coward

"Isn't that how the US built their original railways..?"

Actually, No. The irony is that the Chinese immigrants to the US built half the railway (western part) and were treated as essentially slave labour. It's the American way...

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Ah, that *finally* explains..

Guantanamo Bay..

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Headmaster

Actually, no.

Labor for the U.S. rail system came largely from two groups, Irish vets from the Am. Civil War and Chinese immigrants. Remember the timing, late 1800's designed to move soldiers and gold. The main improvement since then has been from coal fired steam engines to diesel-electric... track maintenance? We've heard of it.

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re: NogginTheNog

I thought that most of the Western Half of the US railway network was actually built by the Chinese originally. The Chinese emigrant work force had the advantage of being cheap and also drinking tea. Other sources of cheap labour drank beer and were therefore pissed the whole time or water and therefore tended to die of all sorts of horrible diseases. Boiling the water to make tea kept them alive long enough to lay the tracks.

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Coat

A few points ...

At 350km/h this train isn't THAT much faster than the current generation shinkansen - and certainly won't be when the next generation arrives in a few years - JR East especially has a project running that will increase speeds from 275 to 350 in the next 3-4 years (Actually the target speed was 360-400 but that's still some time off; but they already ran a test train at over 400 on their lines, so 350 gets kinda wimpy - look up the "Fastech360" or E954/E955 for a laugh). JR Central/JR West run a similar program, although their speed aims are more modest - this might have something to do with their infrastructure having been originally built back in 1964 rather than new.

Additionally, the Chinese buy their high-speed trains from the Japanese (the model on show is the Chinese version of the Japanese E2 shinkansen), and as the French showed us, if you take a short enough train, with big enough engines on a souped up piece of straight track, no record is out of reach.

Mind you, it's about bloody time they got their rail infrastructure fixed; steam trains (even for passengers) are not an uncommon sight there ...

So before you go claim that the Chinese trains "kick butt", please do some investigation as to why that is - in this case, by purchasing technology from abroad and throwing huge amounts of money at it.

Mine's the one with the rail company logo on it :)

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Chinese tech transfer re trains

Oh yes, the Shanghai airport mag-lev... another train designed by Germans, built in China ... and terminating half an hour's taxi drive from anywhere that you'd want to go to in Shanghai. At least trains in Europe tend to arrive in the middle of the city you're heading for.

Except the Eurostar when it's snowing, of course.

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The fastest thing on rails was a rocket sled from the usaf reaching 10,325 km/h

But still the US defines a "high speed rail" as something faster than 145 km/h.

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