Tokyo: Big players in the rail technology industry announced their expansion plans at the World Congress on High Speed Rail, as it kicked off on Tuesday (Jul 7) in Tokyo.
“2017 marks the opening of four new lines, adding 800 km to the French network, with support from regional and local government,” said Guillaume Pepy, Chairman of France’s state-owned railway company SNCF, during the four-day conference hosted by the International Union of Railways.
Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the International Union of Railways or UIC, also mentioned a future connection between Kazakhstan’s capital Astana and China.
“It is visible to foresee this future. In our high-tech sphere of occupation, the engineers know it is very difficult to predict what will happen in five years, but I am positive,” said Mr Yakunin.
Originated in Japan, the high speed railway system has been operating in the country since 1964. The technology was later adopted by France and Germany before expanding to China.
At present, high speed rail covers almost 30,000 km worldwide and the network continues to expand, with China proving to be a strong competitor. In terms of operational skills, however, Japan is confident it remains the leader.
“I would like to spread the Shinkansen technology overseas and make contributions to the world,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the conference.
Still, the high costs of constructing new railway systems remain a major concern, given that potential customers have become more cautious about prices.
“It’s promising but the competition is very high. We have to sharpen our pencils,” said Hiroshi Murao, Kawasaki Heavy Industries General Manager.
Kawasaki is among the 40 firms showcasing its strength at the sidelines of the conference. Currently selling its local trains to the United States, Singapore and Taiwan, the company expressed its interest in bidding for new high speed railway projects in the United States.
According to organisers, this year’s conference focuses on the technology and sustainability of high speed rail networks. In the next edition, however, more attention could be given to its security risks.