Beyond borders: French entrepreneur forges ties in China's rail industry

​By Wang Ziteng
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 6, 2024
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"China and France share a profound historical bond, with the Silk Road serving as a channel for our ties," said Adrien Peulvast, a 47-year-old French railway expert in China and founder of Nanjing SilkRail Rail Transit Technology Co., Ltd., speaking about his motivation for venturing into business in China.

"Our company's name, SilkRail, reflects our dedication to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and our ambition to construct railways along this path," said Peulvast.

Adrien Peulvast (left) and his wife pose for a photo during a sci-tech conference in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, Nov. 4, 2023. [Photo provided to]


Peulvast, who has over 20 years of expertise in global railway technology, first traveled to China in 2009 to conduct pre-opening tests for the Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan high-speed railway. Since then, he married his wife and co-founded SilkRail, a company specializing in urban transit and railway systems. His work encompasses research and development, technological consulting, as well as the import and export of AI software and hardware solutions.

He credited China's favorable business environment for his company's success. "Despite initial challenges in starting up the business, the talent policies and free office space in tech incubators offered by the government have bolstered our belief in the company's growing success," said Peulvast.

Additionally, he expressed confidence in China's improving business landscape and the increasing attention given to private enterprises.

Adrien Peulvast (left) conducts tests on his company's self-developed AI urban rail transit tools in Beijing's Fengtai district in July 2021. [Photo provided to]

Sino-French cooperation

As China and France mark 60 years of diplomatic relations this year, their economic and trade cooperation has flourished. Bilateral trade skyrocketed to $78.9 billion in 2023, with France being China's third-largest trade partner in the EU and China ranking first in Asia and seventh globally for France. Over 7,000 French enterprises invest in China, solidifying China's position as the leading Asian nation in terms of investment and job creation in France for three years in a row.

"The 60th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations signifies deepened understanding," stated Peulvast. He added that China's prowess in developing its sophisticated high-speed railway network presents opportunities for France-China collaboration under the BRI.

Currently, the China-Europe Railway Express has completed over 85,000 trips, connecting 219 cities across 25 European countries. Notably, a direct train service to Lyon in France was launched in 2016. Peulvast's company has played a role in developing a standardized railway data model that has been widely adopted by countries participating in the Belt and Road. 

"China and France share a common vision that science and technology can drive bilateral progress," Peulvast remarked. "Contributing my expertise to Sino-French exchanges brings me pride."

Living in China

In 2007, Peulvast met his wife, Zhang Yu, in Paris and chose to relocate to China to be with her. They now reside in Nanjing. The inclusiveness and convenience of Chinese culture and society were significant factors in his decision to stay. He appreciates the diligent and practical work environment, as well as the convenience brought by public transportation and mobile payments. In his free time, he enjoys delving into traditional Chinese culture, particularly tea culture.

Peulvast stated that he was astonished by China's remarkable transformation in recent years, particularly in rural revitalization, as he frequently travels to his wife's hometown in the Dabie Mountains in Anhui province. The widespread public transportation and 5G network coverage are stark contrasts to his initial impression.

"We all benefit from China's rapid development," Peulvast said, cherishing the warmth of his family and friendships in China.

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