Circular economy

Another milestone for green transit in China

Chen Juan | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 02, 2016


ZhuZhou. Crédit- Denys Nevozhai



CRRC ZhuZhou Locomotive Company introduced two new low-carbon means of public transport this year

As China has become the world’s largest producer of vehicles, motor vehicle exhaust is now one of the country’s worst sources of air pollution. Faced with worsening climate and environmental conditions, many Chinese cities have started to promote low-carbon travel. This year, CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., China’s biggest electric locomotive maker, launched two new low-carbon transport products.

After developing a light rail train using supercapacitator energy storage technology in 2012, the company has now developed fast-charging low-floor trams and China’s first medium- and low- speed maglev (magnetic levitation) passenger train.

The new supercapacitor tram is a streetcar that does not use overhead power cables, can reach speeds of 70 km per hour and can carry up to 380 passengers. It can be fully charged in 30 seconds and run for three to five km, according to Suo Jianguo, chief engineer at CRRC Zhuzhou. In addition, 85 percent of the streetcar’s braking energy is recycled and stored in the supercapacitor. Its super-fast charging and discharging make the streetcar ideal for mass transport.

Meanwhile, the trolley’s entrance is just 320 mm high, allowing passengers to get on and off easily with no need for platforms. This significantly reduces investment in building stations, since they require no additional stairs.

In May, the first medium- and low-speed maglev passenger train designed by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co. was put into operation on an 18.5 km-long track running from the Changsha High-speed Railway Station to the Changsha Huanghua International Airport.

The maglev train has several advantages compared with light rail, subway and other forms of rail transport, such as low noise levels, high grade ability and low cost.

The medium- to low-speed maglev train looks the same as a high-speed train. But with several suspension controllers underneath, there is a gap of 8 to 10 mm between the train and the track. Because the maglev train is suspended above the rail track and does not have wheels, it is able to climb slopes and cross low-lying barriers on the ground. It can climb the equivalent of three stories, whereas the average light rail train can only climb several meters over a long distance.

The running noise of the medium- and low- speed maglev train is remarkably low—about 62 dB, or about the same level as typical human conversation. Zhang Kunlun, head of the medium- and low- speed maglev train test group, said the radiation value of the Changsha maglev train is less than that of an induction cooker when measured from one meter away and less than half of a microwave oven’s radiation when measured from three meters away.

The Changsha maglev track cost CNY230 million (US$34.5 million) per km. The cost for conventional subway construction can reach more than three times that amount, making the tram an appealing alternative to underground transport.

(The writer is with

Published on November 02, 2016
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