The growing Chinese market has reached the doors of the Voith Turbo rail division. Only a few months ago, a major order for gear boxes has been placed, now followed by another one for 20 front nose sections. Supplied by Voith Turbo Scharfenberg, they will be used on new high speed trains, planned to run across the land of the rising sun at 200 km/h, starting December 2005.

The Chinese Ministry of Railways recently submitted plans stating that about 1,200 of these new high speed trains should be up and running by 2015. Against former intentions, the Chinese now refrained from facing the technological challenges on their own, and decided in favour of co-operation partners.

Contracts with these co-operation partners lay down a step-by-step knowledge transfer to the Chinese customer. In a first step, the co-operation partner supplies the required components or systems, followed by ample training and knowledge transfer in step two. A third step will then see local Chinese manufacturers take over future production.

Voith Turbo Scharfenberg has recently accepted such a knowledge transfer contract, through the joint venture Bombardier Sifang Power (BSP), a minority of which is held by Bombardier. Issue of this contract are 20 front nose sections including retractable couplers and front door kinematics. Particularly interesting from a technical point of view will be the local production of the retractable coupler shank, and the connection of coupler and car body by means of hollow rubber springs.

Furthermore, the Voith Turbo Scharfenberg engineers have to develop a front door operating system, preventing the ingress of snow and water into the coupler environment, thus assuring perfect operation of the coupler down at temperatures to minus 40 °C.

In China, three different classes of high speed trains have been defined. The first class comprises trains with a top speed of up to 200 km/h, the second class will run between 250 and 300 km/h, and the third class trains will go as fast as 350 to 370 km/h. So far, the contracts concluded only cover the first class. This leaves Voith Turbo Scharfenberg with positive expectations for follow-up orders for front noses or further power transmission units for classes two and three.