AS WELL as the 300 km/h CRH3 Velaro trainsets, which are due to enter service during 2008, Chinese Railways is currently putting into service 160 trainsets of classes CRH1, CRH2 and CRH5. Designed for operation in the 200 to 250 km/h speed range, these are the first tranches of an extensive fleet envisaged to operate medium-distance inter-city services on China's emerging network of Passenger Dedicated Lines.

The first batch of trains entered revenue operation on the existing network earlier this year, when the ?250 km/h Class CRH2 sets developed by a Kawasaki-led consortium from the Series E2-1000 Shinkansen design began running between Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou on January 28 (RG 3.07 p124). Most of these eight-car units have been assembled locally by CSR Sifang. The CRH4 designation has been reserved for a future local build of these sets for 300 km/h operation.

CR had 50 trainsets available for traffic in time for launch of the sixth national timetable speed-up on April 18 (RG 5.07 p260), when the maximum speed on sections of the conventional network was raised from 160 to 200 km/h. Further sets have since been delivered, and by July 1 there were 63 units in operation (Table I).

The high speed trains have been allocated to 10 of CR's operating bureaux, although the intention is keep each of the three types in a single region to concentrate maintenance at three new depots being developed in co-operation with the rolling stock manufacturers.

The 40-strong CRH1 series being supplied by the Bombardier Sifang Power joint venture (below) are being based in the south, where the new maintenance facility is being developed in Guangzhou.

The 60 Alstom-built CRH5 wide-bodied Pendolino trainsets are based in the northeast, where they are being allocated to a depot in Beijing. Shanghai will be the long-term home for the 120 Kawasaki CRH2 sets, although the other unit types will work into the region from both north and south.

Since April 18 the CRH2s have been operating 25 services each way on the 301 km Shanghai - Nanjing route, offering a standard journey time of 2 h 13 min with three intermediate stops. These services have been overlaid on the existing mix of loco-hauled fast and slow trains, and some diagrams are worked by pairs of trains in multiple. Peak-hour services are operated in 'flights' to maximise line capacity, with three trains leaving Shanghai for Nanjing at 15.35, 15.40 and 15.45 for example.

CR expects to have all 160 trains in service during 2008, apart from two of the CRH2 sets which have been reserved for test running. This will allow CR to provide around 120 million seat-km per day on its high speed services, or 45 billion seat-km per year.

Table I. Regional deployment plans for CR's high speed train fleet

Bureau April 18 July 1 January 1 2008 (planned)
Harbin 2 x CRH5 2 x CRH5 4 x CRH5
Shenyang 2 x CRH5 2 x CRH5 8 x CRH5
Beijing 5 x CRH2 6 x CRH2
1 x CRH5 1 x CRH5 24 x CRH5
Zhengzhou 2 x CRH2 2 x CRH2 10 x CRH2
Xi'an 1 x CRH2 1 x CHR2 2 x CRH2
Wuhan 2 x CRH2 10 x CRH2
Jinan 4 x CRH2 4 x CRH2 20 x CRH5
2 x CRH1 11 x CRH1
21 x CRH2 24 x CRH2 36 x CRH2

4 x CRH5
Nanchang 2 x CRH2 2 x CRH2 8 x CRH1
Guangzhou 10 x CRH1 15 x CRH1 21 x CRH1

10 x CRH1 17 x CRH1 40 x CRH1
35 x CRH2 41 x CRH2 58 x CRH2
5 x CRH3 5 x CRH5 60 x CRH5

  • CAPTION: A Kawasaki-built CRH2 trainset waits to leave Shanghai's new South Station a few days after the formal launch of high speed services in April