China has announced a slowdown in its recently released HSR investment program. Some lines may not be built, and its target of 35,000 km of HSR lines by 2035 will be modified. However, investment in China nevertheless continues at a high level.
But while China is slowing down its rate of HSR expansion, Europe is looking to speed it up, with plans to triple high-speed rail use and double rail freight by 2050.
In Australia, the NSW Government has indicated it may “go it alone” on regional fast rail investment on lines out of Sydney.
Developments in transport technology continue apace. Alsthom has received an order for 12 hybrid hydrogen – electric Coralia Polyvalent trains from SNCF. These have the same range (600 km) and performance as the existing diesel hybrid Polyvalent trains, of which there are 400 operating in France. Alsthom has already sold hydrogen-electric trains to Germany and they have now also been approved for Austria. Alsthom is planning to go into serial production of ILint Hydrogen Hybrid trains in 2021, and sees a market for 5,400 trains in Europe by 2035 to replace diesel railcars.
Australian company Janus Electric has developed a swappable battery for semi-trailers, capable of being changed in three minutes, and providing a range of 400-600 km.
Also in Australia, business leaders suggest that business-based air travel may not fully recover post COVID, as businesses have learnt to utilise teleconferencing.