Iran Seeking China Funding to Complete Metro Project  

Iran is hopeful its ally China will fund up to $2 billion to complete Tehran's metro rail which faces delays due to lack of financing as a result of sanctions, a government official said on Monday.

Phase two of the metro is on track for completion next year but two new lines under the third phase may be delayed due to lack of money, Mohammad Montazeri, deputy managing director, planning & logistics, Tehran Urban & Suburban Railway Co said.

"We are seeing funds from foreign companies. We are in negotiations with China (government, banks and agencies), we are hoping to get financing," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Middle East Economic Digest's Rail Projects conference.

"If the loans come we can finish on time," he said. 



High-speed rail shortens travel time from Beijing to Taiyuan

The high-speed rail line connecting Beijing and Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, will begin operation at the end of 2012. By then, the high-speed railway will extend from Beijing to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, and reduce the previous three-plus-hour travel time to roughly two hours.

At present, eight high-speed rail trains run between Beijing and Taiyuan every day. But operational efficiency of high-speed rail trains is low because they cannot be fully utilized on the outdated Beijing-Guangzhou rail line, which was completed in the late 1990s to connect Beijing and Shijiazhuang.

The Beijing-Shijiazhuang high-speed rail line spans 281 kilometers and passes through six stations, namely Beijing West Railway Station, Zhuozhou Railway Station, Gaobeidian Railway Station, Baoding Railway Station, Dingzhou Railway Station and Shijiazhuang South Railway Station. It is currently in trial operation.

The Beijing-Shijiazhuang high-speed rail line will attract more passengers to travel using the high-speed train. It will integrate Taiyuan into the two-hour economic circle surrounding Beijing and further strengthen the connection between Shanxi province, central China and the Bohai Bay Economic Rim, reported the Shanxi Evening News. 








China launches new high-speed railway 

A new high-speed railway was put into operation in east China on Tuesday, integrating local cities into the country's high-speed rail network that covers developed coastal regions.

The 132-km new railway links Hefei and Bengbu, two cities in the inland Anhui Province, cutting the journey between them by at least one hour to 38 minutes on train traveling at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour.

The section also connects with the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, and is part of the special passenger lines that link Shanghai, Wuhan and Chengdu, and connect Beijing and coastal Fuzhou.

The integration greatly shortens trips from the Anhui cities of Hefei, Bengbu and Huainan to the Yangtze Delta in the east, Pearl River Delta in the south and Bohai Sea Rim in the north, all national economic engines.

The shortest trip from Hefei to Beijing has been cut to less than four hours after the new railway entered service. Previously, traveling by train from the capital city of Anhui to Beijing took about 10 hours or more.

Anhui was incorporated into the country's plan of boosting inland central provinces' development in 2006 as China seeks balanced regional development after witnessing rapid growth in the east.

China currently has more than 6,800 km of high-speed railway lines that run at a speed above 200 km per hour. The total length is expected to reach about 18,000 km by 2015, according to the Ministry of Railways.





Qinghai-Tibet Railway passes environmental assessment 

China's Qinghai-Tibet Railway has passed the Ministry of Environmental Protection's environmental impact assessment, and the body has labeled the project harmonious with the environment.

The ministry launched the assessment on the world's highest rail system in early October and announced the results to be "satisfying."

The wildlife paths, protection of vegetation, frozen earth, marsh and scenery, as well as anti-pollution measures have met expectations, and realized the harmony of projects and the environment, according to the ministry.

Environmental supervision started before construction of the 1,956-km railway and continued after its first operation on July 1, 2006.





China tests high-speed snow train capable of running at 350km/h in temperatures of -40C 

A HIGH-speed railway that can run at nearly 350km/h in temperatures of -40C has begun a trial operation in China, ahead of a launch at the end of the year.

Believed to be the only train in the world capable of such speeds in frozen conditions, it will run on a new line that links Dalian, a port city on China's North East coast, to Harbin, which is blanketed by snow for much of the winter.

The new trains will cut the journey time on the 917km line from nine hours to just three-and-a-half.

The Chinese authorities said it was particularly challenging to construct a line that would operate not only at -40C in winter, but at temperatures of up to 40C in the summer.

"We researched high-speed railway line construction in relatively cold areas of Germany and Japan and learned from water and electricity supply projects in frigid areas," said Zhang Xize, the chief engineer of the railway, to the China Daily.

He said the ice could disrupt the train's power supply and signals system, but vowed that every possible safety measure had been taken.

In July 2011, two high-speed trains crashed outside of Wenzhou after the first train lost power, killing at least 40 people and injuring nearly 200.

Since the crash, China has scaled back its high-speed rail project. But the need to boost the Chinese economy has seen the number of approved high-speed rail projects rise again in the second half of this year.

The north east is one of China's key industrial bases, and the train will also help to boost tourism, especially to Harbin's winter Ice Festival.



China′s holiday rail passengers expected to hit 75 mln 

China's railways are busy ahead of the autumn holiday season, with millions heading home to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival and China's National Day holiday with their families. The 11-day travel rush, began Thursday and runs until October the 7th. According to railway authorities, the total number of rail passengers is expected to hit over 75 million.

As the holiday season begins, people are rushing home to be with their families.

The sheer numbers put great stress on China's transport infrastructure, in particular its vast rail network.

October the 1st alone will see an estimated 9 million people travelling by train, up 320,000 from last year's National Day.

Beijing's four railway stations were estimated to handle nearly 450 thousand passengers on Saturday. In Shanghai, authorities estimate passengers will hit a record of 350 thousand on Sunday.

The vast demand has seen railway administrations across the country add trains to their schedules. But even so, most routes have sold out.

The Beijing Railway Administration has added 31 return trains.

To cope with the travel rush, Fuzhou Railway Station in east China's Fujian province is scheduled to add high-speed bullet trains.

South-west China's Yunnan Province is a popular tourism spot and they have added 3 temporary train services. But train tickets from the capital Kunming to the tourist sites of Dali and Lijiang have sold out.






Female subway waiting areas to open in Wuhan 

Women-only waiting areas will be provided on a new subway line to open later this year in the capital of Hubei province.

Wuhan Metro Line 2, which will start running by the end of 2012, will set up the segregated areas to better protect women's safety, according to Wuhan Metro Group.

The rooms will be installed with monitoring equipment and women can enter carriages from these areas.

The move comes after reports of sexual harassment in recent weeks on subways in a number of cities including Shanghai and Beijing.

More than 80 percent of people think sexual harassment exists on the subway according to a poll reported by China Youth Daily. About 14 percent of people said they had been sexually harassed while riding the subway.

Experts and metro companies offered tips for women to better protect themselves and the news sparked a debate about women-only carriages.

In Wuhan, some stations on Line 2 including Hankou Railway Station and Hongshan Square Station will have rooms for mothers and babies. Mothers can stop at these stations to feed their babies.

Each station on the new line will also have a self service library machine so passengers can borrow and return books.

Shanghai metro system

Shanghai has an extensive public transportation system, largely based on buses, and a rapidly expanding metro system. For a city of Shanghai's size, road traffic is fairly smooth and convenient.

Shanghai has the world's most extensive bus system with nearly one thousand bus lines. The Shanghai Metro (subway and elevated light rail) has five lines (numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) at present. According to the development schedule of the municipal government, by the year 2010, another 8 lines will be built in Shanghai. Bus and metro fares run from Line 1 to Line 4 depending on distance (or between 12 to 50 US cents).

Taxis in Shanghai are plentiful and market competition has driven taxi fare down to affordable prices for the average resident (RMB 11 or a little over one US dollar for 3 km).

Before the 1990s, bicycling was the most ubiquitous form of transportation in Shanghai, but the city has since banned bicycles on many of the city's main roads to ease congestion. However, many streets have bicycle lanes and intersections are monitored by "Traffic Assistants" who help provide for safe crossing. Further, most motorists in China were raised riding bikes and so are fairly careful of them. Further, the city government has pledged to add 180 km of cycling lanes over the next few years.

With rising disposable incomes, private car ownership in Shanghai has also been rapidly increasing in recent years. The number of cars is limited, however, by the number of available number plates available at public auction.

Shanghai itself has six toll-free elevated expressways (skyways) in the urban core and 18 municipal expressways (prefixed with "A"). There are ambitious plans to build expressways connecting Shanghai's Chongming Island with the urban core.






China committed to further develop its high-speed rail network

According to a five-year plan on China's transport system recently approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, China will create a high-speed railway backbone network featuring four east-west lines and four north-south lines by the end of 2015.
China's high-speed lines, which should have an average speed of over 200 km per hour, had a length of 6,894 km in August, down from last year as a speed cut was implemented following the deadly Wenzhou accident, according to the ministry.

Railway expert Wang Mengshu said that as new high-speed lines open, transportation capacity will be released from conventional lines, which will gradually turn into freight lines."Putting passenger and freight on separate tracks will greatly increase traffic volume," said Wang, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. "The plan indicates that China will continue to develop high-speed trains to address its transportation bottleneck."









China tests high-speed snow train

Believed to be the only train in the world capable of such speeds in frozen conditions, it will run on a new line that links Dalian, a port city on China's North East coast, to Harbin, which is blanketed by snow for much of the winter.

The new trains will cut the journey time on the 570-mile line from nine hours to just three-and-a-half.

The Chinese authorities said it was particularly challenging to construct a line that would operate not only at -40C in winter, but at temperatures of up to 40C in the summer.

"We researched high-speed railway line construction in relatively cold areas of Germany and Japan and learned from water and electricity supply projects in frigid areas," said Zhang Xize, the chief engineer of the railway, to the China Daily.

He said the ice could disrupt the train's power supply and signals system, but vowed that every possible safety measure had been taken.








New high-speed railway opens before travel peak

A new high-speed railway connecting Central China's Zhengzhou city and the eastern city of Wuhan opened on Friday morning, easing traffic pressure ahead of a boom in passenger numbers during the coming National Day holiday.

The railway, referred to as the Zheng-Wu high-speed railway, covers a distance of 536 km and trains will pass along it at a designed speed of 350 km per hour, said its designer, Li Zhengjun with the China Railway Construction Co Ltd.

With eight stops along the line, the Zheng-Wu high-speed railway has cut the travel time from Zhengzhou to Wuhan from four and a half hours to two hours, said Li, integrating the Central China economic zone and the Yangtze River Delta.

Looking at a map of China, the railway runs from north to south, connecting the middle parts of China's second-longest river --the Yellow River -- and the country's longest one -- the Yangtze River.

The Zheng-Wu line has also been linked to other high-speed railways, including Wuhan-Guangzhou, Hefei-Wuhan, and Zhengzhou-Xi'an, forming a high-speed railway network, said Li.

It is hoped that this network will greatly facilitate communication between central and eastern China areas concerning human resources and logistics.

It will also relieve pressure on the network from the National Day holiday travel peak in the coming week.

More than 660 million people are expected to travel during the week-long National Day holiday starting on Sunday, an increase of 8.8 percent from the same period last year, according to a prediction made by the Ministry of Transport last week.

Trains are the mainstream means of transport for Chinese holiday travelers.

Furthermore, Li noted that the opening of the Zheng-Wu high-speed railway will bring new life to cities along the railway.

Xu Keliang, deputy chief engineer of China Railway Construction Co Ltd, said the successful opening of the line further enriches China's experience on modern, high-speed railway design and construction.

As for the safety issue of high-speed rail, which has aroused heated debate, Xu said railway authorities have already made a number of tests on the high-speed train, track and running to guarantee safety.

Investment in the Zheng-Wu high-speed railway hit 69.4 billion yuan ($11 billion), with its construction taking about four years, according to Yu Zhuomin, chief of the Wuhan Railway Station Bureau.

Debt has remained high in the railway sector. The Ministry of Railways, the main investor in China's railway projects, reported a loss of 7 billion yuan in the first quarter, with its debt-to-asset ratio standing at around 60 percent.

As of July 2012, the combined length of China's high-speed railway has reached 13,000 km, the most out of any other country in the world.

China aims to construct a high-speed railway network with a total operating length of more than 40,000 km by the end of 2015.


 Chinese rail ministry on the defense as $52m ticketing website is widely reviled

China’s Ministry of Railways (MOR) recently revamped its website for buying train tickets, but the project has widely been regarded as a colossal failure. That failure didn’t come cheap, either, as the government is said to have spent RMB 330 million ($52 million) developing the website.

The 12306 website had a disappointing launch before the 2011 Chinese New Year festival, which is known for being a difficult time to travel as millions of citizens head back to their home towns for the holiday. The government promised to improve the system and it went back to the drawing board, eventually relaunching the site in September in advance of the country’s National Day, the second-biggest travel period of the year.

The new site proved to be yet another debacle receiving numerous complaints of unsuccessful logins and failed ticket purchases. It also added a baffling feature that has customers wait in a virtual line. Train ticket lines in China can be a trying experience, as documented in the 2009 film “Last Train Home “, so bringing the wait into cyberspace has not proved to be popular.

Tea Leaf Nation reported earlier this week that the website’s poor performance has attracted calls for the MOR to disclose the bidding process and financial information surrounding the project. Several citizens, including lawyers and professors, have submitted Freedom of Administrative Information forms and shared their requests on Chinese social media.

The ministry is now taking steps to explain itself in hopes of toning down some of the current public opposition, as noted by the Beijing News. The agency said that it put out the call for bids on the website in accordance with local regulations. Seven companies or work units submitted proposals. Five of those were deemed eligible, and Taiji Computer Corporation and Tongfang Corporation were selected. However, critics have questioned whether those companies were the best fit for the job, suggesting instead that they simple had close ties to the ministry.

Though the MOR declined to provide specific financial information about the project, it did say that it will respond to information requests from the public. The department is currently arranging replies for current outstanding applications.

The Ministry of Railways is already fighting an uphill battle, as it doesn’t have the best reputation for honest dealings. A former head of the ministry was found guilty of corruption last year and was also held responsible for a high-profile train crash that caused 40 deaths. Several other high-ranking officials were also investigated for corruption after the incident.






State Council tells cities to focus on public transport

The State Council has told cities across China to make development of public transportation a priority.

Public transport should be the immediate concern in the development of urban transportation, and public transport — comprising rail transit, bus and tram systems — should be accelerated, according to a document released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday.

Road conditions for cyclists and pedestrians should also be refined, it said.

The current public transport system still has a long way to go to meet the public's needs, and the use of public transport is still too low, the document said.

The meeting stressed the need for coordination between urbanization plans and public-transport development plans. The infrastructure and supporting facilities for public transport, including parking lots, bus dispatching centers and transit centers, should also be improved, according to the document.

The central government supports the commercialization of land that has been used for public transport, including ground and underground spaces. Revenue from commercialization could be used for infrastructure development and balance the cost of public transport.

Meanwhile, government investment into public transport will be increased during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period. The government will unveil policies include tax cuts, oil price subsidies and electricity price cuts for the public transport sector.

Private funds will also be encouraged to take part in the construction and operation of public transport, the document said.

Public transport road rights will also be guaranteed and cities must map out lanes for buses, which could also be shared by school buses and airport buses, it said.

The development of rail transit has been included in the urban development plans in a number of Chinese cities over the years. So far, 28 cities have had their rail transit development plans approved by the National Development and Reform Commission. According to those plans, 2,500 km of subway will be built between 2010 and 2015.

Duan Liren, a transport expert from Chang'an University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, said local city governments' decision to develop rail transit to further promote public transportation is a good one.

"I have been in many cities worldwide, and most of the cities that cope with road congestions well have developed rail-transit systems," he said.

He also said a variety of public transport methods, including buses and trams, should be developed to further provide convenience for commuters.

"Local authorities should put real thought into how to make public transportation more accessible to residents rather than just focusing on laying a network." he said.

China's railways see record traffic 

China's railways carried a record high of 9.14 million passengers on the first day of the eight-day holiday, the country's Ministry of Railways announced on Tuesday.

Sunday was the first day of China's eight-day holiday bridging Mid-Autumn Festival on Sunday and the National Day holiday from Monday to Sunday.
The daily passenger transport volume on September 30 exceeded the previous record of nearly 8.2 million set on the first day of the International Labor Day holiday, which lasts from April 29 to May 1.

On Sunday, the ministry added 343 provisional passenger trains to cope with the travel rush, making the number of passenger trains on the rail network totaled 4,717.

Trains heading for the scenic spots in China was especially crowded with passengers, said the ministry announcement.

No passengers were stranded overnight in railway stations thanks to the provisional passenger trains added to the network, it said.

Authorities predict that around 740 million trips will be made by Chinese people during the holiday, with around 660 million trips to be made on roads and waters, averaging 82.5 million trips daily, up 8.8 percent year on year.

Trains are the mainstream means of transport for Chinese holiday travelers.






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