BYD, China’s leading new-energy vehicle manufacturer, unveiled its first light train recently, a low-cost overground metro system suitable for hundreds of medium and small cities, which was held Shenzhen at BYD’s headquarters.
The train system, “Yungui,” which when translated means SkyRail, costs one-fifth of a regular metro line and cuts the construction time by two-thirds, according to BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu.
According to Chuanfu, “Compared to metro lines in Beijing and Shanghai, the SkyRail has been tailor-made for smaller cities or the tourist and commercial zones of big cities where a full-developed metro system is not viable.”
BYD is one of at least five Chinese companies capable of producing urban light trains, said Zhong Jianhua, deputy director of the experts committee for China Association of Metros. BYD also manufactures coaches, rails, beams, posts as well as signaling and operation systems.
At present, BYD’s electric vehicles are on the road in more than 200 cities in 48 countries and regions around the world. “SkyRail provides urban residents with safe, comfortable and fast mobility while making a real difference to alleviate traffic congestion. BYD is the first privately run Chinese company to enter the mass transit market,” said Chuanfu.
The light train was essentially “Made in China” as about 90 percent of the equipment was produced locally and is expected to become a new driver for growth of China’s rail transport sector. This has now become a national strategy of China. The cost of study of the SkyRail, which was five years in the making, was USD$ 1 billion.
More than 20 Chinese cities have subscribed to building such light trains with a combined rail length of 3,000 kilometers, Zhong said, adding that demand would boost the country’s rail transport sector. The SkyRail, which is easy to maintain, allows a capacity of up to 500,000 passengers per day and has a high speed of up to 80km/h.
“The China-made light rail had been equally welcomed in the developing world, particularly in Southeast Asia. Exports may begin when the market is mature,” added Zhong.