CSR-GE joint venture targets high-speed rail

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2010, 12:00am

The mainland's CSR Corp, the world's largest manufacturer of electric locomotives, will form a joint venture with a unit of US conglomerate General Electric to pursue high-speed rail projects in the United States.

CSR and GE Transportation will invest about US$50 million in the venture, which will probably create 250 hi-tech jobs in the US by 2012.

This partnership is another major step forward in passenger rail development in the US, following a memorandum of understanding signed between the Ministry of Railways and GE in November last year.

'CSR and GE will create a leading passenger transportation business in the US, by combining CSR's extensive experience in developing and operating high-speed and medium-speed electric multiple units [EMUs] and urban rail transit vehicles, with GE's manufacturing and supply chain management expertise in America, as well as in-depth knowledge of the US rail market,' Zhao Xiaogang, the chairman of CSR, said yesterday.

The GE Transportation-CSR joint venture becomes the first US manufacturer ready to supply high-speed rail passenger trains for the two proposed high-speed railway corridors in Florida and California. It also advances passenger rail transport through the manufacturing of medium-speed passenger trains and urban rail vehicles across the US.

'We are committed to advancing the global high-speed rail technology market, and this agreement provides a significant opportunity for infrastructure and business growth,' GE vice-chairman John Rice said. 'It is in line with GE's company-to-country initiatives and will help support investment and hi-tech job growth in America.'

CSR and GE vowed to maximise US content in the trains to meet so-called 'Buy America' standards. All final production will be in the US, helping to sustain about 3,500 long-term, hi-tech manufacturing jobs.

GE is the world leader in diesel-electric locomotive technology, and this agreement is a step towards expanding offerings to manufacture high-speed passenger trains, or EMUs. GE Transportation, which was established more than 100 years ago, is based in Pennsylvania and has 8,000 employees worldwide.

Listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai, CSR was founded in December 2007 and is controlled by the state-owned holding company China South Locomotive Group.

Zhao described CSR as 'one of the world's largest transportation equipment companies. It has strong experience and advanced skills in design, manufacture, testing, repair and maintenance of high-speed and medium-speed EMUs and urban rail transit vehicles,' he said.

The mainland is a leader in rail technology for speeds of 354 km/h and higher. By 2020, the country plans to expand its railway network to span 120,000 kilometres, including 16,000 kilometres of high-speed rail track. GE is also working with CSR to provide the mainland with what the companies claim is 'the world's most technologically advanced, fuel-efficient and low-emission diesel-electric, heavy-haul locomotive'. Three hundred of those fuel-efficient locomotives have already been put into operation by the Ministry of Railways.

GE Transportation and the ministry last year committed to broaden their joint rail technology collaboration to serve the mainland and North America. That includes plans to develop additional diesel locomotive technology and deploy fuel-saving rail software solutions like 'trip optimiser' on the mainland. The ministry will also promote GE's signalling technology in western China.

CSR, meanwhile, has made significant inroads into overseas markets in recent months. In September, a subsidiary signed a contract worth over 100 million yuan (HK$116.61 million) to supply traction diesel locomotives to Australia. It was the mainland's first export of diesel locomotives with home-grown intellectual property in traction technology.

Jobs for Americans

CSR and GE have vowed to maximise US content in their trains

Their joint venture will probably create this many hi-tech jobs in the United States by 2012: 250