China Railway High-speed (CRH) is a high-speed rail service operated by China Railway.

The introduction of CRH series was a major part of the sixth national railway speedup, implemented on April 18, 2007.[1] Hexie Hao (simplified Chinese: 和谐号; traditional Chinese: 和諧號; pinyin: Héxié Hào; literally: "Harmony") is the designation for rolling stock operated for this service. CRH1/2A/5 are designed to have a maximum speed of 250 km/h (160 mph), and CRH2C/3 have a maximum speed of 350 km/h (220 mph). The indigenous designed CRH380A have a maximum test speed of 416.6 km/h (258.9 mph) with commercial operation speed of 350 km/h. The fastest train set, CRH380BL, attained a maximum test speed of 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph).

On 25 June 2017, the China Standardized EMU franchise including CR400AF/BF joined China Railway High-speed and are designated under trademark Fuxing Hao (simplified Chinese: 复兴号; traditional Chinese: 復興號; pinyin: Fùxīng Hào; literally: "Rejuvenation"), painted on side walls of the rolling stock together with letters CR (China Railway).[2][3][4] With a gradual plan, CR series is going to replace the current Hexie Hao franchise in service.[5]

High-speed rail network

High-speed rail services were first introduced in 2007 operating with CRH rolling stock. Those run on existing lines that have been upgraded to speeds of up to 250 km/h (160 mph) and on newer dedicated high-speed track rated up to 350 km/h (220 mph).

CRH service on dedicated high-speed lines

CRH service on upgraded conventional lines

A CRH2C, possibly a sleeper train, on the Longhai Railway outside of city walls of Xi'an.

As of September 2010, there were 2,876 kilometres (1,787 mi) of upgraded conventional railways in China that can accommodate trains running speeds of 200 to 250 km/h.[41] Over time with the completion of the national high-speed passenger-dedicated rail network, more CRH service will shift from these lines to the high-speed dedicated lines.

A. Intercity service (typically, listed in schedules as C-series or D-series trains):

B. Long-haul service (typically, listed in schedules as G-series or D-series trains):

Overnight high-speed trains

Unlike the "conventional" (non-CRH trains), which run round the clock, most high-speed rail lines operations shut down each night. (See e.g. schedules for Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station; as of mid-December 2012, the first train of the day to leave the station is the 06:33 train to Wuhan, and the last one is the 21:10 train to Nanjing, which arrives there before 23:00.[55]). While there are several sleeper EMU trainsets (abbreviated 动卧, dongwo) in existence running on the upgraded rail or high-speed lines, the overnight service is mostly limited to a few night trains between Shanghai and Beijing. With the schedule change planned for 2012-12-21, some of these trainsets will be re-purposed to also provide overnight high-speed service between Shanghai and Xi'an North.[56]

Elsewhere, the fastest overnight rail service available is provided by fairly fast, but "conventional" (not CRH) Z-series trains. Some of them also use certain sections of the high-speed rail network; e.g., the planned Shanghai-Chengdu train Z121/2/3/4 will use the Huhanrong PDL from Nanjing to Chengdu.[56]

In the 2014 Chunyun season, overnight HSR trains first ran on Beijing-Guangzhou (Jingguang) and other lines.

In November 2016, CRRC Changchun unveiled CRH5E bullet train carriages with sleeper berths. Made in the CRRC factory in Changchun and nicknamed Panda, they are capable of running at 250 km/h, operate at -40 degrees Celsius, have wifi hubs and contain sleeper berths that fold into seats during the day.[57] In 2017, CRRC unveiled a high speed train with double decked sleeper berths classed as the CRH2E series high speed rail train.[58]

Rolling stock

China Railway High-speed train passing through Shenzhou railway station in Hainan
Chinese designed CR400AF departing from Beijing South Railway Station.

China Railway High-speed runs different electric multiple unit trainsets, the name Hexie Hao (simplified Chinese: 和谐号; traditional Chinese: 和諧號; pinyin: Héxié Hào; literally: "Harmony") is for designs which are imported from other nations and designated CRH-1 through CRH-5 and CRH380A(L), CRH380B(L), and CRH380C(L). CRH trainsets are intended to provide fast and convenient travel between cities. Some of the Hexie Hao train sets are manufactured locally through technology transfer, a key requirement for China. The signalling, track and support structures, control software, and station design are developed domestically with foreign elements as well. By 2010, the truck system as a whole is predominantly Chinese.[59] China currently holds many new patents related to the internal components of these trains, re-designed in China to allow the trains to run at higher speeds than the foreign designs allowed. However, these patents are only valid within China, and as such hold no international power. The weakness on intellectual property of Hexie Hao causes obstruction for China to export its high-speed rail related product, which leads to the development of the completely redesigned train franchise called Fuxing Hao (simplified Chinese: 复兴号; traditional Chinese: 復興號; pinyin: Fùxīng Hào; literally: "Rejuvenation") that based on indigenous technologies.[59][60][61][62]

The trainsets are as follows:

Hexie Hao franchise
  • CRH1 produced by Bombardier Transportation's joint venture Sifang Power (Qingdao) Transportation (BST), CRH1A, and CRH1B, nicknamed "Metro" or "Bread", derived from Bombardier's Regina; CRH1E, nicknamed "Lizard", is Bombardier's ZEFIRO 250 design
    • CRH1A: sets consists of 8 cars; maximum operating speed of 250 km/h
    • CRH1B: a modified 16-car version; maximum operating speed of 250 km/h
    • CRH1E: a 16-car high-speed sleeper version; maximum operating speed of 250 km/h
  • CRH2: nicknamed "Hairtail", derived from E2 Series 1000 Shinkansen
    • CRH2A: In 2006, China unveiled CRH2, a modified version of the Japanese Shinkansen E2-1000 series. An order for 60 8-car sets had been placed in 2004, with the first few built in Japan, the rest produced by Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock in China.[63]
    • CRH2B: a modified 16-car version of CRH2; maximum operating speed of 250 km/h
    • CRH2C (Stage one): a modified version of CRH2 with a maximum operating speed up to 300 km/h as a result of replacing two intermediate trailer cars with motored cars
    • CRH2C (Stage two): a modified version of CRH2C (stage one) has a maximum operating speed up to 350 km/h by using more powerful motors
    • CRH2E: a modified 16-car version of CRH2 with sleeping cars
  • CRH3: nickname "Rabbit", derived from Siemens ICE3 (class 403); 8-car sets; maximum operating speed of 350 km/h
  • CRH5A: derived from Alstom Pendolino ETR600; 8-car sets; maximum operating speed of 250 km/h[64]
  • CRH6: designed by CSR Puzhen and CSR Sifang, will be manufactured by CSR Jiangmen. It is designed to have two versions: one with a top operating speed of 220 km/h; the other with a top operating speed of 160 km/h. They will be used on 200 km/h or 250 km/h Inter-city High Speed Rail lines; planned to enter service by 2011[clarification needed]
  • CRH380A; Maximum operating speed of 380 km/h. Developed by CSR and manufactured by Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock; entered service in 2010
  • CRH380B: upgraded version of CRH3; maximum operating speed of 380 km/h, manufactured by Tangshan Railway Vehicle and Changchun Railway Vehicles; entered service in 2011
  • CRH380CL: designed and manufactured by Changchun Railway Vehicles. Maximum operating speed of 380 km/h; planned to enter service in 2012
  • CRH380D: also named Zefiro 380; maximum operating speed of 380 km/h, manufactured by Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation Ltd.; planned to enter service in 2012
    • CRH380D: 8-car version
    • CRH380DL: 16-car version (Cancelled in place of additional CRH1A and Zefiro 250NG sets)

CRH1A, B,E, CRH2A, B,E, and CRH5A are designed for a maximum operating speed (MOR) of 200 km/h and can reach up to 250 km/h. CRH3C and CRH2C designs have an MOR of 300 km/h, and can reach up to 350 km/h, with a top testing speed more than 380 km/h. However, in practical terms, issues such as maintenance costs, comfort, and safety make the maximum speed of more than 380 km/h impractical and remain limiting factors.

Fuxing Hao franchise
Equipment type Top speed in test Designed speed Seating capacity Formation Power
(under 25 kV)
Entry into Service
CRH1A 278 km/h (173 mph) 250 668 or 611 or 645 5M3T 5,300 kW 2007
CRH1B 292 km/h (181 mph) 250 1299 10M6T 11,000 kW 2009
CRH1E 250 618 or 642 10M6T 11,000 kW 2009
CRH2A 282 km/h (175 mph) 250 610 or 588 4M4T 4,800 kW 2007
CRH2B 275 km/h (171 mph) 250 1230 8M8T 9,600 kW 2008
CRH2C Stage 1 394.2 km/h (244.9 mph) 300 610 6M2T 7,200 kW 2008
CRH2C Stage 2 350 610 6M2T 8,760 kW 2010
CRH2E 250 630 8M8T 9,600 kW 2008
CRH3C 394.3 km/h (245.0 mph) 350 600 or 556 4M4T 8,800 kW 2008
CRH5A 250 622 or 586 or 570 5M3T 5,500 kW 2007
CRH380A 416.6 km/h (258.9 mph) 380 494 6M2T 9,600 kW 2010
CRH380AL 486.1 km/h (302.0 mph) 380 1027 14M2T 20,440 kW 2010
CRH380B 380 unknown 4M4T 9,200 kW 2011
CRH380BL 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph) 380 1004 8M8T 18,400 kW 2010
CRH380CL 380 8M8T 19,200 kW 2012
CRH380D 380 495 4M4T 10,000 kW 2012
CRH380DL 380 1013 8M8T 20,000 kW Canceled (2012 original plan)
CRH6 220 586 4M4T unknown 2011
CR400AF 400 556 4M4T 2017
CR400BF 400 556 4M4T 2017

Chinese MOR CRH trainsets order timetable

Chinese MOR CRH trainsets order timetable

Date Factory Speed Level Type Quantity
2004-10-10[65] Alstom 250 km/h CRH5A 3 24 620 million EUR
CNR Changchun 57 456
2004-10-12[66] BST (Bombardier & CSR) 250 km/h CRH1A 20 160 US$350 million
2004-10-20[67] Kawasaki 250 km/h CRH2A 3 24 9,300 million RMB
CSR Sifang 57 456
2005-05-30[68] BST 250 km/h CRH1A 20 160 US$350 million
2005-06[67] CSR Sifang 300 km/h CRH2C Stage one 30 240 8,200 million RMB
350 km/h CRH2C Stage two 30 240
2005-11-20[69] Siemens 350 km/h CRH3C 3 24 13,000 million RMB
CNR Tangshan 57 456
2007-10-31[70] BST 250 km/h CRH1B 20 320 1,000 million EUR
CRH1E 20 320
2007-11[71] CSR Sifang 250 km/h CRH2B 10 160 1,200 million RMB
2007-11[67] CSR Sifang 250 km/h CRH2E 6 96 900 million RMB
2008-12-06[67] CSR Sifang 250 km/h CRH2E 14 224 2,100 million RMB
2009-09-23[72] CNR Changchun 250 km/h CRH5A 30 240 4,800 million RMB
2009-03-16[73] CNR Tangshan 380 km/h CRH380BL 70 1,120 39,200 million RMB
CNR Changchun 30 480
2009-09-28[74] CSR Sifang 380 km/h CRH380A 40 320 45,000 million RMB
CRH380AL 100 1,600
Modified 2012-09-05[75]
BST 380 km/h CRH380D 70 560 27,400 million RMB
250 km/h CRH1A 46 368
250 km/h Zefiro 250NG 60 480
2009-09-28[76] CNR Changchun 380 km/h CRH380B 40 320 23,520 million RMB
CRH380BL 15 240
CRH380CL 25 400
2009-09-28[77] CNR Tangshan 350 km/h CRH3C[78] 20 160 3,920 million RMB
2009-12-30[79] CSR Puzhen 220 km/h CRH6 24 192 2,346 million RMB
2010-07-16[80] BST 250 km/h CRH1A 40 320 5,200 million RMB
2010-09-14[81] CSR Sifang 250 km/h CRH2A 40 320 3,400 million RMB
2010-10-13[82] CNR Changchun 250 km/h CRH5A 20 160 2,700 million RMB
2011-04-26 CNR Changchun 250 km/h CRH5A 30 240 3,870 million RMB
Total 1050 10,240

Chinese CRH trainsets delivery timetable

Based on data published by Sinolink Securities;[83][84] some small changes were made according to the most recent news.

Type 2006 2007 2008 2009

CRH1A 8 18 12 2 20 20 106 80
CRH2A 19 41 15 25 100
CRH5A 27 29 4 30 20 30 140
CRH1B 4 9 7 20
CRH1E 3 8 9 20
CRH2B 10 10
CRH2E 6 14 20
CRH2C 10 20 30 60
CRH3C 7 36 37 80
CRH380A 40 40
CRH380AL 6 94 100
CRH380B 20 201 40
CRH380BL 11 49 551 115
CRH380CL 251 25
CRH380D 702 70
CRH380DL 02 0
CRH6 24 24
Total 27 86 78 88 204 237 330 1050
Cumulative 27 113 191 279 483 744 1050 1050
  • ^1 All CRH380B and CRH380C units to be delivered before 2012.
  • ^2 All CRH380D units to be delivered before 2014.


Year million riders ±% p.a.
2007 61 —    
2008 127 +108.20%
2009 179 +40.94%
2010 290 +62.01%
2011 440 +51.72%
2012 486 +10.45%
2013 672 +38.27%
2014 893 +32.89%
2015 1,161 +30.01%
2016 1,440 +24.03%
2017 1,713 +18.96%
Source: [85] 2008[86] 2010[87] 2011[88] 2014 [89][90] 2015[91][92] 2016[93] 2017[94]

Annual HSR ridership is highest in the world and has ramped up very quickly. China is the third country, after Japan and France, to have one billion cumulative HSR passengers. Ridership is approaching 1.5 billion per year, accounting for half of all regional rail trips (not including urban trains) in China.

Technology development

Before the introduction of foreign technology, China conducted independent attempts to domestically develop high-speed rail technology. Some notable results included the China Star, but domestic Chinese companies lacked the technology and expertise of foreign companies, and the research process consumed a large amount of time. People's Republic of China Ministry of Railways spokesman Zhang Shuguang stated that due to historical reasons, China's overall railway technology and equipment is similar to that of developed countries' rail systems in the 1970s; high-speed rolling stock development is still in its infancy stage. If using only their own resources and expertise, the country might need a decade or longer to catch up with developed nations.[95] In 2004, the Chinese State Council and the Ministry of Railways defined a modern railway technology and equipment policy as "the introduction of advanced technology, the joint design and production, to build China brand". The realization of the railway "leapfrog development" is the key task required to develop and utilize the technology required for high-speed trains (higher than 200 km per hour).

Technology introduction

On April 9, 2004, the Chinese government held a conference on modern railway equipment and rolling stock, in which they drafted the current Chinese plan to modernize the country's railway infrastructure with advanced technologies.

On June 17, 2004, the Ministry of Railways launched the first round of bidding on the high-speed rail technology, but the company must be:

  • legally registered in the PRC, with rail EMU manufacturing capacity
  • able to manufacture trains with the ability to reach 200 km/h

High-speed EMU design and manufacturing technology companies, including Siemens, Alstom, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Bombardier, initially had hoped to enter into a joint venture in China, but was rejected by the Ministry of Railways. The MOR set these guidelines for joint ventures to be acceptable:

  • comprehensive transfer of key technologies
  • lowest price in the world
  • use of a Chinese brand

A comprehensive transfer of technology to Chinese enterprises (especially in systems integration, AC drive and other core technologies) was necessary to allow domestic enterprises to master the core technology. While foreign partners might provide technical services and training, the Chinese companies must ultimately be able to function without the partnership.[96] Railway equipment manufacturers in China were free to choose foreign partners, but foreign firms must pre-bid and sign the technology transfer agreement with China's domestic manufacturers, so the Chinese rolling stock manufacturers could comprehensively and systematically learn advanced foreign technology.[97]

In the first round of bidding, 140 rolling stock orders were divided into seven packages of twenty orders each. After extensive review and negotiation, three consortiums won the bid:

These three consortiums were each given three, three, and one twenty order packages respectively.[97] Germany's Siemens, as a result of an expensive technology bid — the prototype vehicle cost was 350 million yuan each column, technology transfer fee 390 million euros — did not get any orders in the first round.[98][99] EMU tendered 22.7 billion yuan for technology transfer payments in the first payment, accounting for 51 per cent of the amount of the tender.

In November 2005, the Chinese Ministry of Railways and Siemens reached an agreement, and Siemens in a joint venture with Changchun Railway Vehicles and Tangshan Railway Vehicle (both owned by CNR) was awarded sixty 300 km/h high-speed train orders.


The introduction of high-speed trains, a foreign advanced technology, was required in order to implement China's "Long-term Scientific and Technological Development (2006–2020)". The core technology innovations necessary for a high-speed rail system to meet the needs of China's railway development resulted in the Ministry of Science and Ministry of Railways signing the "independent innovation of Chinese high-speed train cooperation agreement Joint Action Plan" on February 26, 2008.[100] Academicians and researchers from CAS, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Southwest Jiaotong University, and Beijing Jiaotong University have committed to working together on basic research into improving China's scientific and industrial resources into developing a high-speed train system.

Under the agreement, China's joint action plan for improvement of train service and infrastructure has four components:[101]

  1. Develop key technologies to create a network capable of supporting trains' speeds of 350 km/hr and higher
  2. Establish intellectual property rights and international competitiveness
  3. Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Railways will work together to enhance industry research alliances, and innovation capability
  4. Promote China-related material and equipment capacity

The Chinese Ministry of Science has invested nearly 10 billion yuan in this science and technology plan, which is by far the largest investment program. The project has brought together a total of 25 universities, 11 research institutes, and national laboratories, and 51 engineering research centers. The Ministry of Science hopes to develop basic research sufficient to produce key technologies necessary to develop trains capable of 500 km per hour through the "863 Project" and "973 Project".[102]

Technology export

On 2009-07-27, Chinese Ministry deputy chief engineer Zhang Shuguang stated that America, Saudi Arabia and Brazil are interested in Chinese high-speed railway technology. July 28. The Federal Railroad Administration and the US government are negotiating on the introduction of Chinese railway technology.[103] On 14 October 2009, Prime minister of Russia Vladimir Putin and the Russian Railroad Administration signed an Organizing and developing railway in Russia memo with Ministry of Railways of China, planning to build a high-speed railway from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk.[104]


On 23 July 2011 at approximately 20:00 CST, two high-speed trains travelling on the Yongtaiwen railway line No. D301 and No. D3115 bound for Fuzhou collided on a viaduct near Wenzhou, Zhejiang, leading to 40 deaths and 191 injuries. Both trains were on the same rail track, headed in the same direction. D3115 ground to a halt in front of D301 due to a loss of electric power caused by lightning striking a viaduct near the Ou River. Signalling systems purportedly failed, and D301 rear-ended the first train, sending four carriages off the viaduct.[105][106]

See also


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