First private Chinese high-speed line starts trials

source: Fosun Group

Trial operations started on the Hangzhou-Taizhou railway, China’s first privately funded high-speed line. The new railway line is expected to be ready for operation before the end of the year.

The Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Taizhou Railway is among the first rail projects funded by a public-private partnership (PPP) in China and the country’s first privately funded high-speed railway project. On November 26, trial operations started on the line. A consortium led by Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International has a 51 percent stake in the undertaking. State-owned China Railway holds 15 percent of the equity, and local governments have the remaining stakes.

Measuring 266.9 kilometres in length, the railway line has a designed speed of 350 kilometres per hour. The route starts from Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in the east, which lies under Shanghai. It passes through the prefecture-level cities of Shaoxing towards the coastal city Taizhou in the same province.

Private pilot project

Construction of the Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Taiwan railway started in December 2017. It is one of the first eight social capital investment railway demonstration projects in China. In September of the same year, Fosun signed a contract with the Zhejiang Provincial Government to lead the private consortium. The construction of the railway line was completed in June 2021.

The project is based on a build-operate-transfer model, an executive at Fosun said to Chinese media Yicai Global. After four years of construction, investors will operate the project for 30 years, after which they will hand over the assets to the Chinese government. China Railway Corporation and its subsidiaries will operate the railway and collect the ticket income, and then pays the investors a use fee, which is one of the main sources of income for railway investors.

By entering the trial operation stage, the countdown to the official opening of operation has begun. The test trains running on the line are basically the same as the trains that will be used for operation. Testing includes train operating chart parameters test, fault simulation, and emergency rescue drills. The adaptability and stability of the system’s operation will be tested under normal and extreme circumstances, for example when equipment fails, so that the whole line meets the operating requirements.

Connecting to cities on the coast

The opening of the line will halve the travel time from Hangzhou to Taizhou to about one hour, and marks the opening of the first railway in the county-level city of Shengzhou and Xinchang county in Shaoxing and Tiantai county in Taizhou. The railway, which connects the urban areas of Hangzhou with coastal cities, should also bolster the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.

There are five stations on the Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Taizhou high-speed line, including three located in Taizhou. Visitors taking the railway to Tiantai Mountain in Tiantai will get to enjoy a 50-percent discount, local authorities announced. Tiantai Mountain, which is considered the cradle of the Tiantai sect of Chinese Buddhism, is now a national scenic spot in Taizhou.

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Author: Esther Geerts


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