Local Trains Help Cut Costs

The first made-in-Shanghai metro train will roll out of the production line on Wednesday, as part of the city's efforts to increase passenger capacity of its mass transit system, officials announced yesterday.

The train was manufactured by Shanghai Alstom Transport Co Ltd - a US$28 million joint venture between French rail giant Alstom and Shanghai Electric Corp

"Local production will help cut operating cost and guarantee better maintenance of the metro lines," Yu Guosheng, vice director of Shanghai Economic Commission, said yesterday.

The lower cost will help operators introduce more trains to the metro lines, decreasing the wait between trains, he said.

The train, specifically designed for a yet-to-be-completed 17-kilometer light-rail line between the suburban townships of Minhang and Xinzhuang, will be delivered to the local metro operator at the end of this year. The suburban line is scheduled to start operating next year.

The move to local production drastically reduces the cost of trains, as a locally manufactured subway car is priced at about US$800,000, about US$400,000 cheaper than imports, said Lu Ruxing, chief engineer of Shanghai Alstom. Each light-rail train has four cars.

Following the government's requirement that foreign companies find a domestic partner to cut the cost of rail construction, Alstom joined hands with Shanghai Electric to establish the train production and repair plant in 1999.

The venture is set to supply 300 new trains and provide maintenance service to 1,000 trains annually.

"The launch of the new train also indicates that the local rail transit manufacturing industry is forging ahead," said Jiang Zhenzhen, vice president of state-owned Shanghai Electric.

Shanghai plans to build up to 10 rail lines totalling 212 kilometers by 2005, increasing the percentage of local commuters using public transportation from 3 per cent today to 20 percent.

The city currently has 65 kilometers of rail in operation, including two subway lines and one light-rail line.

( eastday.com September 13, 2002)