From Kunming, a Chinese city of 6.8 million people, high-speed trains dart across five provinces at up to 350 km/h to reach Shanghai – 2,264 kilometers away – in just under eleven hours. That makes it the longest high-speed route in the world, shortening travel time by 23 hours. In Europe, a similar journey by train – from Cologne to Moscow – would take 31 hours.
As well as expansion, the entire network and its overhead wiring need to be serviced and maintained to ensure that China’s high-speed trains are capable of transporting people and goods quickly, safely and efficiently This is where Continental’s air spring systems for cutting-edge service and response vehicles come into play, because the demands placed on overhead helping to meet the incredibly demanding quality, reliability, operating safety and availability standards for overhead wiring on high-speed rail lines. At the end of 2014, we delivered our systems for rapid-response service vehicles deployed in the Chinese high-speed rail network. The vehicles can be used universally across the network. With applications ranging from servicing and maintenance to inspection, safety checks and troubleshooting and the replacement and construction of overhead wiring, they cover the entire spectrum of work involved in building and maintaining a rail network.
Getting safely to the job site in record time – when every minute counts, Continental is on board.
Our air spring system features secondary suspension between the bogie and the main frame, which enables the maintenance vehicle to travel safely and independently to its next service location at speeds of up to 160 km/h. “Sometimes, this can involve travel distances of up to 2,500 km. Speeding up the journey to the next service location makes it possible to complete maintenance on the high-speed network significantly more efficiently. From a financial perspective, this is of enormous benefit to customers,” explains Günther Sengeis, key account manager for Air Spring Systems at Continental in Austria.
Since the 1990s, China has been employing rail as an environmentally friendly, reliable and high-capacity transport solution, and has been expanding the network at an astonishing pace. By the year 2020, the system is planned to grow even more, from 19,000 kilometers to an impressive 30,000. This will put 80% of all major cities on the high-speed rail system. Rail constitutes an essential structure for the movement of people and goods between China’s major cities. Our air spring systems for maintenance vehicles support this structure, providing safe and reliable mobility in China. Our system also absorbs vibrations and shocks, making any uneven sections of track barely perceptible inside the train. This enables workers to use the onboard workshop to make important preparations as they travel. The faster the work can be completed, the sooner the track can be re-opened. “As time pressure rises, there is less and less time available for maintenance and servicing. Greater efficiency is key to getting things done,” stresses Sengeis.
Climatic conditions place huge demands on materials
China’s vast size and its 18 different climate zones result in extreme contrasts at times – in particular, long and persistently cold winters with temperatures dropping to -25°C and even -40°C, and torrid heat of +40°C in the summer are typical for the north of the country, while the regions in the east and south-east have very hot, subtropical summers. This variety of climatic conditions exposes our materials to major stresses, yet they must function reliably for as long as possible and across the country in both heat and cold. These conditions are significantly more challenging for the air spring systems than those in less demanding climates, such as western Europe. Over decades of work in Europe, we’ve built up the expertise needed to develop systems with outstanding resistance to extreme temperatures, abrasion and the effects of ozone, UV and other factors. We have worked with our customers to expand our knowledge of local factors, such as climate conditions and routes. That means that we can now develop the best possible solutions for each market.
||Günther Sengeis works as key account manager for Air Spring Systems at Continental in Austria:
„Our air spring system enables maintenance vehicles to travel safely and independently to their next service locations at speeds of up to 160 km/h. Speeding up the journey makes it possible to complete maintenance on the high-speed network in China significantly more efficiently.“