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A Fuxing (rejuvenation) bullet train (right) and a Hexie (harmony) bullet train undergo maintenance at a depot late at night in Beijing earlier this month. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

China Railway Shanghai Group has upgraded its bullet train maintenance system to guarantee safer journeys during the ongoing Spring Festival travel rush, a time of family reunions that makes for the busiest annual transportation frenzy in the country.

"Our maintenance techniques are leading the world," said Qian Jianqiang, deputy chief of the Shanghai Depot of EMU (electric multiple units), the group"s maintenance center. "It guarantees safe trips as the speed can reach 350 kilometers per hour."

The upgrade involves improving real-time monitoring through data management, staff rearrangement and enhanced maintenance.

According to the group, departing travelers from Shanghai during this year"s Spring Festival are expected to reach 13 million, up 9.6 percent from last year.

Departing travelers are expected to reach 71 million from Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces along with Shanghai from Feb 1 to Mar 12, up 6.7 percent year-on-year, with nearly 2 million per day beginning their voyages from these origins.

To deal with the challenge, 67 pairs of bullet trains were added to the current 766 pairs, up 9.6 percent year-on-year for the Shanghai depot.

According to the group, the Spring Festival travel rush requires daily maintenance of 75 pairs of bullet trains for the Hongqiao EMU Depot, which operates under the Shanghai depot, and sometimes peaks at over 80.

Technicians are working on the betterment of real-time monitoring through data management. Developed by China Railway Shanghai Group, the China Railway EMU Health Management system allows remote data collection, problem-solving analysis and maintenance guidance to provide a more sufficient set of solutions.

According to Gong Yufeng, technician at the Shanghai depot, in case of any potential train problems, the station will be immediately notified so it has sufficient time to prepare for maintenance once the trains arrive.

Developed in 2016, the system has successfully predicted when main transformer cooling unit filters need changing, and prolonged the time gap from changing every four days to 10. The adjustment has largely cut down on costs while maintaining operational performance.

Wireless Transmission Device Information Systems for High-Speed EMU has also been adopted at the Shanghai Depot of EMU to address problems that are severe enough to potentially threaten passenger safety.

"Our goal is a safe trip home and back," said Qian.

Changes were also put in place for rearrangement of technicians and operating systems for maintenance. For instance, eight technicians were arranged for first-level checking and maintenance on each bullet train, which is double the ordinary number.

"During the holiday travel rush, Fuxing bullet trains will be examined and maintained once per day," added Qian.

Equipment updates include high voltage assemblies and suspensions meant to cope with extreme weather as the bullet trains go as far north where temperatures can hit-40 C.

In addition to a safer trip, big data has also revolutionized the trip experience. Customers now enjoy free high-speed Wi-Fi on Fuxing trains, can use biometric scanning instead of ID checks at multiple stations, and high-tech bathrooms at Hongqiao Station allow people to see availability before entering.


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