China rolls out world’s first carbon-fibre commuter train

The metro train will begin serving Qingdao’s 9 million people later this year (CRRC)
A Chinese train maker has unveiled a prototype metro train made from carbon fibre that it says is 11% lighter, making it more energy efficient and less hard-wearing on tracks.

Manufacturer Qingdao Sifang Rolling Stock, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation, revealed the prototype called “Cetrovo” in Qingdao on Wednesday.

Fully automated, and with a top speed of 140km/h, the trains will enter service in the city later this year, replacing trains that travel at 80km/h.

Qingdao Sifang says its chassis, driver’s cab and bogie frames are made from carbon fibre, which makes for a 7% gain in energy efficiency.

It also cuts the wear and tear on tracks and the train’s own moving parts, and does not suffer from corrosion over its 30-year service life.

The company first mentioned its plans to build carbon-fibre rolling stock in 2018, when it described it as “a comprehensive upgrade in terms of energy saving, environmental protection, comfort and intelligence”.

At that time, it estimated that the final product would be 13% lighter and would deliver a 15% saving in energy.

Carbon-fibre is formed from organic polymers drawn into strands that are about a tenth of the thickness of a human hair and must be bundled together, heated in a vacuum, and finally woven together.

The final product is five times stronger than steel but 75% lighter.

Until recent years, the cost of carbon-fibre has limited its use to high-value or luxury items, such as aeroplanes and bicycles, but it has been falling.

The South China Morning Post notes that prices have fallen from about $400 a kilogram in the 1980s to $30 today.

  • Subscribe here to get stories about construction around the world in your inbox three times a week.

Further reading:

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest articles in News