The Dragon rides the rails
Posted on August 09, 2018 by Lucie Maluck, Images by Shutterstock, mtu-Archiv
China’s rise as a global rail technology player.
Mention transport technology capable of transforming entire countries, and people immediately think of artificial intelligence, flying taxis and driverless cars, not locomotives, freight cars, sheet metal and steel. But that is exactly what China is exporting –locomotives and rolling stock. And by doing so, the Middle Kingdom is getting the economy on track in countries like Argentina, South Africa and Madagascar.
When China started out in Madagascar, there was a single working locomotive and a ramshackle rail system to work with. In 2008, the local operator Marda Rail received five locomotives for its modernization program and delivery of the Chinese locomotives marked a turning point for the African island nation. According to the World Bank that assisted with financial arrangements, the project played a major role in revitalizing freight transport.
The new ‘Silk Road’: China to Europe by rail
And Chinese ‘Rail Mania’ continues to flourish. With its ‘New Silk Road’ project, Beijing has launched a logistics initiative costing billions and intended to create giant new railroads linking China with Europe. By investing in a range of construction projects involving highways, rail tracks, pipelines, power plants, telecommunications networks, harbors and airports, China plans to connect the land and water masses of Europe and Asia. An 11,000-kilometer rail link already connects the Chinese city of Chongqing with the German logistics center in Duisburg, where 25 trains from China now arrive every week. The newly completed rail link costs only half as much as airfreight and is twice as fast as sea freight, making it ideal both for time-sensitive cargo like promotional goods and for high-end products like automobile parts and electronics.
Cooperation: mtu and CRRC
At the end of 2017, mtu and CRRC further consolidated their successful cooperation by signing a strategic partnership agreement. The document confirms that in future CRRC will continue to consider mtu engines as drive solutions for diesel railcars and locomotives. The two companies also expressed their intention to work jointly on future drive solutions such as hybrid drives and gas engines. Over recent years, CRRC has already placed orders for 500 mtu Series 4000 engines. “An mtu engine costs CRRC more than an engine from the competition,” said Tony Chan who heads engine sales for China at mtu. “But the mtu engine is lighter and smaller it uses less fuel. And the customers are full of praise for the quality of our customer service,” he added.