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Peak CRH

by DoDo Sat Sep 12th, 2015 at 06:43:57 PM EST

Let's interrupt our witnessing of Europe's self-destruction with austerity and xenophobia (well unless Corbyn, Podemos & co can turn the tide), with another update on a case study of what would be possible if our leaders would have real visions: China's rapid expansion of rail infrastructure.

I have no narrowly defined occasion to post this now, just that 2015 looks like the year the construction of high-speed lines peaks, and the finances of the operational network consolidate.

A CRH380CL (front) and a CRH380BL (back), which represent two successive stages in the domestic further development on the basis of Siemens's Velaro platform, meet at Beijing South in January 2014. Photo from Wimimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

CRH: phases of development

I have followed the different phases in the extremely rapid development of the China Rail Highspeed (CRH) network on ET for seven years:

  • shortly after the opening of the first proper high-speed line in 2008, the phase of escalating reckless ambition was described in China wants 380 km/h trains;
  • not two years later, it was already time to declare The new high-speed superpower (on the basis of network length, number of trains and speeds);
  • then China's premier line opened in crisis year 2011, when the arrest of the railway minister and the Wenzhou train crash led to a review of plans, construction suspensions and speed reductions;
  • but in my 2013 China updates, I could report that healthy ridership and income growth on the existing network and the positive review of future projects led to a resumption of rapid construction (churning out thousands of kilometres of new lines a year);
  • by the time of my last review in Rail infrastructure investment news in March 2014, the disparate lines started to link up into a continuous network, and the first major post-Wenzhou new projects were drawn up.

In the 18 months since then, the network in operation almost doubled again:

Map of China's elevated-speed network, as of September 2015. Legend:

  • Line thickness = top speed :
    • thick: 300 km/h
    • medium: 220–250 km/h
    • thin: 160–200 km/h
  • Color = construction status:
    • green: upgraded conventional line in service
    • blue: new line in service
    • purple: opened between March 2014 and early September 2015
    • red: under construction
    • grey: planned

At least a dozen more lines are due by the end of the year, while half a dozen more are due to begin construction. As for new projects, compared to 18 months ago, the most significant additions are the ones forming a second Beijing–Hong Kong corridor (more on the need for this later).

This year represents a peak of construction, at least in line length terms (with focus shifting to the superstructure-heavy lines across the mountains around Sichuan, cost per kilometre grows), and network expansion will slow down. Almost every line on the map will be finished by 2022 (year of the Beijing Winter Olympics). After that, I only expect a couple of additions and higher-speed upgrades each year.

Towards profit

The history of high-speed rail is full of projects that, due to this or that planning deficiency, failed to meet initial expectations, only to become a roaring success a few years later. CRH went through an extreme version of this: while in 2011, some feared (and US anti-rail propagandists hoped) that China will be crushed financially by a trillion-dollar debt for lines that, rejected by the public, will never turn a profit, now the renminbis are flowing and China is the only country where there has been a pro-high-speed rail riot(!). It's worth to look at how three specific lines performed.

The biggest success now is the most important and most expensive part of the network, the Beijing–Shanghai line. In 2014 (its third full year of operation), it carried more than 100 million passengers, and turned a profit a couple of years ahead of schedule. For scale, this is already two-thirds of the peak of the world's busiest high-speed line (the Tōkaidō Shinkansen), and pretty close to the design capacity of 120 million passengers/year! Hence:

...over 250 trains are running on the tracks every day, and even this cannot meet the need of passengers," said chairman Cai Qinghua. "We are about to build the second Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway if it continues developing this way."

Before that, the newly planned lines from Beijing to Hefei would provide relief.

The second case study is the Wuhan–Guangzhou line, which was one of the first to open. It was a big gamble as the first near-1,000 km line in the world, it provided for negative news with unmet initial ridership expectations, and its losses were of real significance due to its sheer size. However, it reached 50 million passengers in 2013, or 2½ times its initial year ridership, or about break-even level. A big factor was the opening of connecting lines (in particular its extensions to Beijing and Shenzhen), another the opening of urban rail connections to several of its stations.

The worst performer among all the projects is the Zhenzhou–Xi'an line, a 500 km line opened in early 2010 that saw less than 4 million passengers in its first year. This line, too, was hamstrung by bad connections, which have been alleviated by 2013, and traffic growth was rapid by then already. I couldn't dig up recent ridership numbers, but based on the number of train services (32 per day per direction now, vs. 12 in 2011), it should be around 15 million a year now. With further improvements (for example, the future Luoyang Metro, the Zhengzhou intercity network, and the line to Xuzhou in the east), further growth is guaranteed, and it's possible to reach the break-even level, with I estimate at about 50% above the current traffic.

The new metro superpower

As told in The metro revolution, China also launched an expansion of rapid transit systems that is on par with the high-speed rail programme. By now systems in operation earned China the metro superpower title:

  • three dozen cities have a metro system in service or construction,
  • the metro systems of Beijing and Shanghai are the only two in the world with a dedicated network exceeding 500 km (eclipsing London & New York),
  • since last year, the same two also lead in annual ridership (eclipsing Tokyo, Seoul and Moscow), with Guangzhou close on their heels;
  • the new networks are built with cutting-edge technology, for example showcasing most of the world's automated metro lines;
  • hundreds of kilometres of new lines are added each year.

Unlike in the case of high-speed rail, there is no end in sight for the metro expansion, construction at the current frenzied rate could go on until 2050 and still not cover demand.

Conventional rail

For some years now, the focus of conventional rail construction has been China's west. Some notable projects starting construction recently run to the west and east of the Tibetan capital and across the Gobi desert.

A potentially major new trend could be freight-dedicated lines. China already has three of these, connecting mines and seaports for its dirtiest commodity, coal. A recently approved fourth line will run inland in a north-south direction. But more might be constructed, for general freight and manufactured goods, because there are complaints about limited capacity on mixed-traffic lines.

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

Once I had dinner with an international bunch of railway engineers in Munich, when a colleague (a local) who has been to China on business talked about what he saw and how he realised that everything is on a different scale from what is possible in Europe. When I tried to suggest that, especially in Germany, there are institutional and financial hurdles to efficient project execution, my arguments fell on deaf ears. Even a Dutch guy and an Austrian guy (who should know better as Austria has a much better system) brought up irrelevant excuses for the sluggishness of projects like the third track from the Ruhr Area to the Dutch border. Received wisdom is a terrible thing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 12th, 2015 at 06:58:44 PM EST
In July, the newly merged single Chinese manufacturer CRRC presented two prototypes for the next generation of high-speed trains, for now both designated CRH350:

The one in the foreground is the latest stage of development that started with the imported Siemens Velaros, the other is a grand-grand-grandchild of the Shinkansen Series E2. The professed aim of the development was to standardise technology around components with 100% domestically-owned intellectual property rights.

"350" represents the intended service top speed. When compared to that of earlier models, the number is symbolic of the post-Wenzhou-accident change in mindset, from boosterism to safety and efficiency. The current generation of trains, developed just prior to the Wenzhou accident, are designated CRH380, but were limited to 350 km/h in their short service life prior to the accident and 300 km/h ever since. In addition, there have been two earlier prototypes originally designated CIT500, and originally intended to break the world rail speed record, but these have been sidetracked and even re-designated (as CRH380AM).

Back in 2012, when I asked a Chinese representative what will become of the CIT500 prototypes, he explained that the new leadership focuses on economics, and a major design change of the CIT500 for higher speed – reduced cross-section – reduced seating capacity, thus those prototypes are viewed as a dead end to be used as technology testbeds at most, burying the record speed prestige ambitions.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 15th, 2015 at 08:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the high traffic densities that seem to characterise the Chinese HS network, I don't see how you could run a mix of 350 km/h and 500 km/h trains anyway...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Sep 25th, 2015 at 12:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I corrected the map in two regions, and the corrections fit into a pattern: "true" 300–350 km/h high-speed railways built alongside existing 200–250 km/h railways which have already become saturated.
But what's even more interesting is the much bigger project to double the entire Yangtze River corridor (where the Nanjing–Wuhan section of the existing semi-high-speed line is saturated, too). Only the launch of a feasibility study was announced just two days after my diary, so there is no route yet for most sections and I'm not putting it on my map yet.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Sep 24th, 2015 at 11:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet more evidence that the availability of connections increases ridership. When people are offered services that take them where they want to go, they get on board. That may sound obvious, but it isn't to many deciders in Europe and the States.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Sep 13th, 2015 at 01:57:32 AM EST
Is there any study of an algorithm that relates population density to the potential traffic density and hence viability of potential new lines? If so, one could derive a map of underdeveloped regions from a rail traffic perspective.  It would also provide a guide as to when engineering problems created by mountains and seas are capable of being overcome in an economically viable way.  For instance, the Dublin/London route is one of, if not the busiest air route on the planet.  Could an undersea or oversea/bridge rail engineering solution ever become viable?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Sep 13th, 2015 at 02:39:54 PM EST
There are traffic estimates from the very simple (multiplying city populations with some factor) to the very complex (taking into account population according to travel times to the stations, expected fare policy, expected GDP growth, rival modes of transport), and each can go wrong. But, for your example, the picture is relatively simple: by comparison to Eurotunnel, we can say that any structure would be more expensive with today's technology while demand is lower, so definitely uneconomic now. If the Holyhead tunnel shall ever become viable, then due to some drastic reduction in construction costs.

For instance, the Dublin/London route is one of, if not the busiest air route on the planet.

Checking Wikipedia and then Eurostat (Transport > Air transport > Air transport measurement - passengers > Detailed air passenger transport by reporting country and routes), I find the number for 2014 is:

  • Dublin to London Heathrow: 1,650,394
  • Dublin to London Gatwick: 990,590
  • Dublin to London Stansted: 808,934
  • Dublin to London Luton: 326,336
  • Dublin to London City: 230,946
  • Dublin to London, total: 4,007,200

This does appear to be the second-busiest international route, but several domestic routes around the world are busier. Methinks a rail route could draw from a wider base (for a start, also from the passengers of air routes to northern England), but I don't see where you'd find 10 million passengers which Eurostar now has.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 13th, 2015 at 05:45:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, it might be worth to point out what would be economically not viable projects even in China:

  • Chongqing–Xi'an: this would be yet another crossing of the mountains around Sichuan, but the little time saving compared to a travel on sections of two existing projects (the Chongqing–Lanzhou and Chengdu–Xi'an lines) made it pointless.
  • Hohhot–Lanzhou: there would be a third major city along the route, but it's an economically marginal region, so not enough demand.
  • Dalian–Yantai(–Qingdao): this would be an undersea tunnel even longer than between Ireland and England, and has been seriously proposed, but you'd need a demand similar to Beijing–Shanghai.
  • Taiwan Straits tunnel: this was again a serious proposal when relations were better, technically still viable, but economically, just LOL.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 13th, 2015 at 05:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only would you have to add passengers on air routes to N. England, but passengers from the rest of Ireland (Belfast, Cork, Shannon etc) to Britain.  Also, with a link up to the Eurotunnel, some displacement of air travel to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris etc.).  A lot would depend on the relative cost and speed of train as opposed to air and Ferry passenger and car travel.

To this you could also add much of Ireland/UK/France ferry passenger traffic, and air and sea freight.  Ireland's GDP growth is again north of 6%, and the vast bulk of our trade is still with the UK, so a passenger and freight traffic equivalent to Eurostar 10 Million doesn't seem out of the question.  

The key question would be how much additional passenger/freight traffic a Dublin Holyhead rail could be expected to stimulate due to reduced cost/increased convenience of having direct links to inner city rail stations as opposed to out of town airports. (A Gatwick London rail ticket can currently cost as much as a Dublin gatwick fight ticket).

I think the argument for a Dublin Holyhead rail link would hinge on a number of factors:

  1. The cost/engineering feasibility of the project given the structure of the Irish sea bed
  2. Passenger/freight traffic volume projections
  3. The projected economic stimulus such a link would create
  4. Projected carbon emission savings
  5. Oil price trends
  6. The strategic importance of creating a "land link" between Ireland and the rest of Europe - which would leave only Cyprus and Malta without such a link.

Of course Brexit would reduce the significance of 6.  I can't see the project even moving to a feasibility stage without the EU at least part supporting it as a key strategic infrastructure and economic integration project.  In other words, it won't even get onto the political agenda unless the dominant EU political ideology moves from neo-liberalism to some form of Keynesianism.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Sep 13th, 2015 at 08:01:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I considered most of the factors you mentioned in your first three paragraphs, but I see I could have spelled them out.

  1. There was an unspoken assumption that the UK will at least finish HS2 Phase Two before the launch of the tunnel project and upgrade the Welsh north shore line in parallel with the tunnel project.
  2. If I add up the current 4 million flying between Dublin and the five London airports and the 1.7 million flying to Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham airports, I get the current size of the core market for fast travel. High-speed rail can't grab the entirety of even that (especially the part changing to overseas flights), but two-thirds would be viable, so around 4 million.
  3. Even with a Crewe Holyhead high-speed line, Dublin–London would be pretty close to the 3-hour limit below which HSR can dominate air. Cork and Limerick are currently 2 hours from Dublin by rail, and would be at 1 hour even with a HSR line. So HSR via an Irish Sea tunnel can grab only a small part of the market currently represented by the Shannon Airport and Cork Airport to London resp. northern England routes (currently around 1.5 million). Same story about Ireland to more distant UK or French or Benelux targets. If I'm generous, I add 1 million more, so 5 million total for HST to take from air.
  4. Of course, as you say, the introduction of HSR won't leave the entire market static but will boost it. The biggest factor behind such market boosts is affordability. I think that, as in the case of Eurotunnel, the Irish Sea tunnel would guarantee relatively high HSR ticket prices (compared to other HSR with the same travel distance), which will limit this boost.
  5. The convenience factor is mostly linked to the 3-hour limit (rail is competitive with faster air transport when home to airport/station travel times and waiting times are added).
  6. This comparison was limited to the air/HSR market. When considering the ferries, at the English Channel, the main rail competition is not Eurostar, but the Shuttle trains, and I imagine the Irish Sea tunnel would have piggyback shuttle trains, too. Methinks the total ferry market would be smaller than at the English Channel, but the rail competition could bite out a larger share than the Eurotunnel Shuttles, due to the time savings.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 08:42:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  V. comprehensive.  You have much more experience of this sort of stuff than I have.  

However it seems to me that "the 3-hour limit below which HSR can dominate air" is an unduly harsh criterion.  The sheer convenience of being able to travel from (say) central Cork to London by train (perhaps on a sleeper) with perhaps only two stops outweighs a lot of the inconvenience of getting to airports, waiting, traveling from airports, etc. Public transport to airports in Ireland is notoriously poor.

Having said that, I would expect air carriers to up their game and compete furiously if rail travel became an option.  A lot of cross channel ferries survived the onset of Eurotunnel by becoming more competitive.  Also I have no feel for the potential volume of rail freight traffic, which is almost totally undeveloped in Ireland.  Basically the Irish rail network is almost totally strategically irrelevant at the moment, unless something like a Dublin Holyhead link changes the whole game.  

The potential for increased tourism if you could get a train direct from (say) London to Killarney strikes me as enormous however, and I would love to see an anaysis of the potential boost.  I do recall reading about an engineering feasibility study getting some v. limited EU funding not all that long ago, but have heard nothing since.  In an era of public austerity, this sort of project is simply not on the agenda.

However I would be interested in any data or sources you have on the carbon intensity of HSR as opposed to other forms of public transport. The strategic vulnerability of Ireland to international carbon prices as well as the climate change effects of same is something we simply have to address in the longer term.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 11:02:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the 3-hour limit, it is a rule of the thump, and there are longer relations that beat air, but the general trend that market share drops sharply with increasing travel time around some threshold is quite harsh indeed.
  • In France, AFAIK the longest dominated by rail is Paris–Perpignan (minimum travel time: 4 hours 50 minutes), but this is a special case (also see this analysis).
  • For Japan, check out page 6 of this pdf, which shows rail still winning two-thirds over a relation it covers in 3h 44m but a mere 10% over a 4h 47m relation.
  • For China, I lift a diagram from the OECD study also linked in the diary, with the shortest HSR travel times added, which indicates a threshold somewhere above 4 hours:

  • On the other hand, there are also routes with HSR travel time under 3 hours dominated by air. On the Madrid–Barcelona route, rail defeated air when minimum travel time was reduced from 2h 38m to 2h 30m.

Regarding an Irish Sea tunnel feasibility study, the latest I can find was by a think-tank:

'We need an underwater train to Ireland,' says think tank - BBC News

An underwater tunnel linking Wales to Ireland should be seriously considered, a transport think tank has said.

Similar to the Channel Tunnel, it has called for a new route to run between Holyhead and Dublin.

With an expected cost of around £15bn, the investment would be similar to that of the HS2 from London to Birmingham.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Cymru Wales thinks the tunnel could be ready by the end of the century.

Regarding the carbon intensity of HSR, I again refer you to Railways, energy, CO2 - Part 1 and Part 2. This is another field without simple answers, because there are factors that make for differences in orders of magnitude. In the case of a super-long tunnel project, the main source of carbon emissions is not any fuel used for energy production or manufacture, but concrete, and the share of this in the carbon intensity of travel by HSR is a linear function of the lifetime of the structure and the traffic volume during its lifetime. (BTW, was "as opposed to other forms of public transport" a typo? The sensible comparison would be to rival modes of long-distance transport.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 02:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By "as opposed to other forms of public transport" I mean other forms of mass transport - chiefly air, sea, and road - it is not meant as an allusion to ownership. The question of what constitutes long-distance travel is is the one we are debating! Interestingly, the Dublin London distance (c. 600Km) is comparable to the Madrid Barcelona route you instance, which seems to be on the cusp of a comparative advantage for HSR over air.  That would suggest that a Dublin London HSR link would not have a huge advantage over air, and would not necessarily displace the majority of air traffic unless there was a distinct price advantage. This surprises me, because a realistic central Dublin London travel time is. c. 5 hours (30min to Dublin airport, 120 min. security, check-in and Board, 90 min taxi and flight, 60 min. London airport to city) which should be easy enough for HSR to halve.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 15th, 2015 at 06:57:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PS - I  used to commute once a week from Ireland to my West London workplace.  I could do it in 4 hours by driving straight to airport (35 min.) parking in v. expensive short term car park, running onto plane as doors were closing and getting a taxi at the other end.  Of course there could be considerable delays, especially in Winter, and it was not exactly a carbon friendly way of doing it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 15th, 2015 at 07:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's like Eurostar, you'll still need an hour for checking in for the train as well.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Sep 15th, 2015 at 07:14:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Terminology nitpick corner (it's not important for the debate but I like to put these things in order):
  • What you mean is passenger transport. The "public" in "public transport" doesn't refer to ownership, but to access: it means mass passenger transport available to the public, which covers scheduled bus, tram, metro, rail, ship and airline transport. In contrast with individual transport (which includes cars, cycling and private jets) and more exotic limited-access transport like charter flights and troop transports (I'm not sure if there is a generalised category for those, but traffic stats often differentiate).
  • I used "long-distance" in a sense common across several sub-fields of EU traffic policy, which doesn't refer to any specific distance travelled: basically, it is transport that is not primarily meant to serve commuting. Differences include how and why it can be subsidized, whether there is provision for standing passengers, and whether toilets are obligatory. In this sense, basically all flights are long-distance transport, which is obviously a notion different from "short-distance flight" (what you do on an A320) and "long-distance flight" (what you do on an A380).

For a realistic Dublin–London travel time, as gk says, you have to add waiting time due to the check-in required by UK border controls, as well as some time for travel within the cities (even if that's less than travel to the airport). I note that the travel distance would be significantly shorter than Madrid–Barcelona (only a little over 500 km), but you have to factor in that going full speed across the tunnel is unlikely: it would be technically possible to allow for 320&nsp;km/h for the bottom part (but not the ramps), but you'd save on construction costs and maintenance if you aim lower and increase safety and capacity if there is parallel shuttle and freight traffic. (The Chunnel is 160 km/h max, for the Irish Sea tunnel I think 200 km/h would be ideal.) Rail could still beat the 5 hours you surmise for air, but not by a huge margin.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 15th, 2015 at 09:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm deliberately not referring to exclusively passenger traffic as, without including freight, I don't think the volumes have much chance of being economic.

The difference between medium distance and long distance, for me, in this debate, is the point at which air travel has an advantage over HSR in terms of consumer preferences for a given price point. Even short haul flights don't allow standing room, but that is for safety rather than distance reasons.

There are no border controls between the UK and Ireland which maintain a "Common Travel Area" and therefore no reason for lengthy security check delays on check-in.  I hadn't realized Eurostar require a 1 hour check in period, which seems to me to rather defeat the purpose of HSR.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 15th, 2015 at 12:31:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since I just updated my spreadsheet, here is the evolution of market shares on the Madrid–Barcelona route:

While passing the 50% barrier was connected to the travel time reduction in late 2011, the ticket pricing reform of February 2013 had an even stronger effect, pushing rail market share above 60%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Sep 20th, 2015 at 06:19:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 29th, 2015 at 06:19:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we safely assume there is a lot less lobbying in China for squishing rail?
Lobbying that has severely subverted the proper rollout of better rail systems in Europe, and most dramatically with Amtrak in America.
Great diary, thanks!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 12:00:01 PM EST
China also seems to be kicking off a tram/light rail boom, as DoDo predicted a few years ago. :)

Wikipeida has a doubtless out of date article about trams in China, and this SkyscraperCity thread has lots of news from January 2014 onwards. Skoda and AnsaldoBreda, among others, have licensed designs to Chinese manufacturers, which will no doubt evolve into 100 per cent domestic Chinese trams.

Here's a list of new and upcoming lines as of January 2014, cribbed from SkyscraperCity:

Shenyang, tram Line 6 opening in June 2014, Line 4 to construct in 2014
Nanjing, opens in August 2014
Huai'an, opens in September 2014
Suzhou, opens in December 2014
Guangzhou, Haizhu line opens in December 2014
Shenzhen, opens in December 2014
Chengdu, opens in June 2015
Haikou, opens in December 2015
Wuhan, opens in 2015
Beijing, Xijiao line opens in 2015
Foshan, opens in 2016
Zhuhai, opens in 2016
Chongqing, 2 lines planned
Zhuzhou, 3 lines planned
Shanghai, 6 lines planned
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Sep 18th, 2015 at 11:07:28 AM EST
Lots of delays, which IMHO will also apply to newer projects in this recent write-up.

The niche where I saw room for a tram boom in China was the hundreds of mid-sized cities too small for a full metro. Of the above, I would only count Huai'an and maybe Zhuhai in that category, the rest are in big cities and often held back when city planners realise that they need (or have a higher-priority need for) something higher-capacity. So light-rail construction is gathering steam but I see no boom yet, though it may be closer, if say Huai'an proves to be a good model to follow :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Sep 18th, 2015 at 04:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Addis Ababa light rail opens - Railway Gazette

ETHIOPIA: The first light rail line in Addis Ababa was opened for revenue service on September 20, following several months of test running. Hundreds of residents queued for hours ahead of the opening to sample the new service.

Designed to relieve growing road congestion as the city's population passes 5 million inhabitants, the 34 km two-line network serving 39 stations has been constructed by China Railway Engineering Corp at an estimated cost of US$475m. The project has been 85% funded by loans from Export-Import Bank of China.

...The network is operated by a fleet of 41 three-section 70% low-floor trams supplied by CNR Changchun. With trams running at up to 70 km/h, the two routes are designed to carry up to 15 000 passengers/h in each direction.

Services are initially operating between 06.00 and 22.00 each day, with Chinese contractors providing both the drivers and the maintenance staff. The Chinese will also be responsible for maintaining the tramway's independent power supply network which includes four substations with a total rating of 160 MW.

...Insisting that `the light rail is not for commercial purposes', Gebeyehu explained that ticket prices would be `very cheap' in order to `serve people with low incomes'.

At last one of these risky projects pursued by China in Africa has been delivered. The next one should be Lagos, Nigeria.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 22nd, 2015 at 07:05:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Local connections are indeed a factor. For instance, with the new Line 15 extension of the Beijing Subway that opened next to my University's campus, it is from 1:15 to 1:30 to the airport, and the same or more to the Beijing South railway Station. The biggest factor in the trip time is how many transfers are required.

When the last phase of Line 15 is finished, it will connect to Line 4, which runs by the South railway station, which will make the subway trip under an hour ... and means, for instance, getting to Tianjin via subway then HSRail from this Northwest inner suburb of Beijing would be just about as fast as getting to the international airport.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Sep 19th, 2015 at 07:30:15 AM EST
Continuing his China charm offensive, George Osborne is encouraging Chinese companies to bid for HS2 construction contracts.

Steve Bell responded to the news with this not exactly flying pig.

by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Sep 25th, 2015 at 03:17:30 PM EST
Japan loses Indonesian high-speed railway contract to China
Sofyan Djalil, head of the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency, told Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo on Tuesday that Indonesia planned to welcome the Chinese proposal, Suga said at a news conference.

Jakarta dropped both Chinese and Japanese high-speed railway construction proposals early this month, citing the high cost of each, and offered to consider instead a cheaper medium-speed railway.

[...] China recently submitted a new proposal to build the high-speed rail link between Jakarta and the West Java provincial capital of Bandung without requiring Indonesian fiscal spending or government debt guarantees.

by das monde on Wed Sep 30th, 2015 at 06:15:51 AM EST

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