China’s ‘Alpine’ high-speed train service starts tomorrow

CRRC Corporation says its CRH2G high-speed train, which has been developed specifically for high-altitude operation, has been approved by China’s National Railway Administration enabling the fleet to enter passenger service next month on the 1776km Lanzhou – Xinjiang high-speed line in north west China.

The 250km/h trains are being supplied to China Railway Corporation by CRRC’s Qingdao Sifang subsidiary and are designed to operate at up to 3600 meters above sea level in temperatures ranging from -40 to +40oC as well as sandstorms, high-winds, and intense ultraviolet light.

The highest railway station in Europe is at 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) above sea level. It is close to the summits of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch mountains. Jungfraujoch is an underground railway station situated below the Jungfraujoch col in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland.

Bogies have been adapted to prevent frost, snow, and ice accumulation while the sealed bodyshell reduces the risk of failures caused by condensing meltwater. Underfloor equipment cabinets are pressure-sealed to minimise sand and dust ingress and a sediment control ventilation system ensures onboard air quality is maintained.

China Railway Corporation (CRC) confirmed on November 5 that commercial operations will begin on November 16 on the first section of high-speed line in the western region of Xinjiang Uygar.

The 530km Urumqi – Hami line is the first section of the 1776km Urumqi – Lanzhou high-speed line to be completed. The remainder of the 250km/h line is due to open by the end of the year, reducing journey times between Urumqi and Lanzhou from around 21 hours to eight hours.

The 31 station line crosses the Gobi desert and reaches a summit of 3607m above sea level in the Qilianshan No. 2 Tunnel, making it the world’s highest high-speed line. To protect the line from high desert winds, 462km of screening has been installed along the route.

Construction began on the Yuan 143.5bn ($US 23.5bn) project in November 2009 and trial operation commenced on the Xinjiang section of the route in June this year.

Electrical equipment has been configured to minimise the risk of damage from lightning strikes and CRRC says protective film on the windows reduces UV penetration to less than 1%.

Development of the CRH2G has taken around three years, a process which included testing one of the driving vehicles in the Rail Tec Arsenal climatic chamber in Vienna.

Each 201.4m-long eight-car train seats 613 passengers including 48 in first class.

SOURCES – Wikipedia, rail journal