Southampton teams up with Chinese high-speed manufacturer

The University of Southampton signed a deal with a Chinese high-speed train manufacturer to set up a centre for railway research and development.

The UK-China centre will undertake research to develop new technologies, materials and manufacturing for high-speed trains and metros. China’s train manufacturer CSR Qingdao will also work with Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham.

The research efforts will go into biodynamics and ride comfort, vibration and noise reduction, human factors and staff-training, the University of Southampton said. The university has worked with CSR in the past on two joint projects on cabin active noise control and passenger sound quality.

CSR has manufactured around half of China’s entire high-speed rail fleet, known for being the world’s largest network of high-speed rail. The country used to be a major importer of rail technology, but in recent years tables seem to have turned, with China looking to become the world leader in high-speed rail.

“It used to be that CSR and CNR [China’s other largest state-owned rail equipment maker] were competing against Bombardier and Alstom; now it has become China versus everybody else,” Alexious Lee, who leads industrials research for CLSA, told Bloomberg. “China’s products may not boast high-end specifications, but they provide value for money.”

Yi Qiu, associate professor at Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, said: “The implementation and outcomes of the project will help advance our understanding of the characteristics of passenger ride vibration and acoustics to develop better solutions for reducing vibration and noise to improve ride comfort for high-speed trains.”

Professor Paul White, director of ISVR, said: “We hope this project marks the start of a long and fruitful relationship with CSR Sifang working towards solving some of the engineering challenges associated with high-speed rail travel.”

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