China's leadership in high-speed rail development started with years of investment in skills and know-how, focused on technical innovation, quality and safety.
The launch of Fuxing, the first self-developed high-speed train in China, marked a milestone in high-speed rail development. Learning about its core technologies and how their patent numbers surpassed others will show us China's path to independent innovation.
Car – What transports passengers
A car is a towed vehicle designed to move along a railway track. Its major technologies involve how to make the body lightweight with new materials and new structures.
China's number of patent applications for the car body has mushroomed since 2006. It has also led to the rapid growth of global applications during the period.
Bogie – What enables the train to turn
A bogie is a frame onto which the wheels of the railway vehicle are fixed. It's used to facilitate movement on curved tracks. Main research focuses on methods of making them safer and lighter.
The number of China's bogies-related patent applications exceeded more than half of the world's total in 2010.
Train Control and Management System (TCMS) – What controls the train
The system is referred to as the "brain of the train" due to its central role in coordinating control and monitoring the train's traction, braking, bogie, door and air conditioning.
The trend of the world's applications on TCMS has been similar to that of China's since 2008, meaning that China is dominating the number of applications in this area.
China has come a long way in building a high-speed rail of its own. In the history of high-speed rail, China wasn't the first. The earliest experiments were conducted in Germany, and then Japan opened the first line in 1964.
The trend of technology concentration can be seen from the overall number of related patent applications, which shows that China caught up quickly by importing as well as developing its own high-speed rail technology starting from 2004.
Thanks to those technical progress, China has put into operation a high-speed rail network that is larger than all the high-speed networks in the rest of the world put together.