China has set up an inter-agency coordination group to enhance its ability to develop an advanced and safe high-speed rail system.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) website, www.most.gov.cn, on Thursday released the grouping of MOST and the Ministry of Railways (MOR) to coordinate planning, research and development, industrial manufacturing and equipment upgrades in the country's high-speed rail sector.
MOST Minister Wan Gang, a former Audi chief technologist for hybrid vehicles, and MOR Minister Liu Zhijun co-chair the group.
MOR has tested the country's first high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Tianjin since the end of May, with an average speed of 300 km per hour. Last week, President Hu Jintao test rode the train, which covered 120 km within 30 minutes.
MOR promised to make sure safety and timeliness in operating the service between the capital and Tianjin, a co-host city for the upcoming Beijing Olympics in August.
On Tuesday, the country started to build its second inter-city high-speed rail line linking Nanjing and Shanghai, one of the most important business hubs in the Asia Pacific region. The 300-km line was estimated to cost 39.45 billion yuan (5.7 billion US dollars) and would be completed in four years.
The high-ranking coordination group was established largely with an eye on clearing technological obstacles to build a high-speed trunk line between Beijing and Shanghai.
All key decision makers from the two ministries have joined the group, which also comprises 18 leading railway technologists. Thirteen academics from both the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) were invited to give advice to the decision makers on key issues.
The two ministries contracted a few research institutes and state-owned companies to develop the new-generation train, which boasts an average speed of 350 km per hour. The homegrown technologies, not only for train coaches but also for reliable railway systems, were expected to compete with the world's most cutting-edge know-how.
China previously contacted with German, French and Japanese high-speed train vendors to explore possibilities to introduce foreign-developed high-speed railway systems in the country. However, it was now resolute to build the network with its own proprietary technologies.
As an alternative, China had even built the world's first commercial maglev line, based on Siemens technology linking Pudong to the Shanghai Airport.
Among the 18,000 km of newly-built passenger railroads planned toward 2020, most were high-speed lines. The first commercial operation of the China High-speed Railway (CHR) would start before the opening of the Olympics on August 8.
(Xinhua News Agency July 3, 2008)