BUENOS AIRES — China, with advanced technology in railway industry, has greatly helped Argentina’s ambitious plan to renovate its ailing railway system.
The Argentine government has worked to refurbish its railway in recent years, aiming to provide a better system for passengers and cargo with lower costs, and to stimulate its inland economies.
August has witnessed several railway advances and become a harvest season for the Sino-Argentine cooperation on the track.
The capital Buenos Aires on Aug 26 completed a successful test run of new Chinese carriages on its subway system’s A line, provided by the CRRC Corporation, China’s state-owned rolling stock manufacturer.
The A line is the first in Buenos Aires to have air-conditioned carriages.
The stainless steel carriages have zero kilometers on the clock. Each carriage can carry 133 passengers and has a security device that will stop carriages from piling up in case of an accident.
“This test has shown that people approve our work and will lead us to redouble our efforts to improve all the city’s subway lines,” said Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, mayor of the Argentine capital city.
The Argentine government reopened a local railway line between the capital Buenos Aires and the southeastern town of Gonzalez Catan on Aug 25, after receiving brand-new carriages from China at the end of July.
“The new units have received a warm welcome from passengers and they are part of the 81 self-propelled train carriages which have doubled this line’s transportation capacity,” said Argentine Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo.
The railway line, able to carry 100,000 passengers daily, used to be mainly utilized by the poor. “However, we are now converting it into a railway for honorable workers,” said Randazzo.
In 2013, China South Railway (CSR) won a $1 billion contract which provides 709 carriages to renew the country’s commuter system.
The CSR is now known as the CRRC after emerging with China North Railway (CNR).
By the end of July 2015, all the 709 carriages had been shipped to Argentina.
A large part of Argentina’s national railway system has been in disrepair or underdeveloped. Aging infrastructure has also led to a number of accidents in the country in recent years.
In May 2012, a fatal collision on the Sarmiento railway killed 51 people and injured hundreds of others, which made the Argentine government determined to upgrade its railway system.
RAIL SYSTEM UPGRADED
Besides buying carriages and locomotives, Argentina also introduced signaling systems and other services from China.
The Sarmiento line’s signal system has been upgraded with Chinese technology by April, said Chen Jian, deputy director of CRRC’s Times Electricity company.
“The CRRC’s electrical power supply and signaling systems are world leading. We can help Argentina upgrade its railway networks with our technology and experiences,” said Chen.
The CRRC will also provide equipment for the Roca line connecting the capital with its suburban areas, including traction systems, auxiliary converters, and control and monitoring devices.
However, Chen pointed out certain challenges in their further cooperation, especially the closed nature of the Argentine market and its distance from China.
“Technical assistance and post-sales services face big challenges due to the distance,” Chen said, “Building plants in Argentina would be a good way to solve those problems.”
Last November, the CSR and Argentine government reached an agreement to establish a plant here to provide maintenance service and produce equipment and parts for trains via technology transfer.
This new Chinese plant would mark the beginning of an era of technological cooperation and revive Argentina’s railway industry, Randazzo said.