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Chinese firms target ASEAN market


08-18-2016 05:00 BJT

As Singapore and Malaysia move ever closer to building a high-speed rail link – and with China among those preparing to bid for the lucrative contract – Chinese firms are already establishing a firm foothold in Malaysia’s rail industry. China’s CRRC Zhuzhou – purported to be the largest rolling stock manufacturer in the world – is now running an assembly plant in Malaysia. It plans to also target the ASEAN market, while hoping for a role in the high-speed rail project.

This Malaysian commuter rail train was built by China’s CRRC. So was this light rail train. And this inter-city train, said to be as fast as any in the world on a metre-gauge track.

CRRC is estimated to have an 80 per cent share of the Malaysian rail market. And nowadays, these trains are being made right here at this plant in central Malaysia.

"We have the capacity to build trains for trunk railway, intercity line and urban mass transit. We could build subway cars, LRT cars, as well as high-speed rail, electric locomotive or even magnetic suspended cars. We could build cars for meter gauge and standard gauge," Li Hong, general manager of CRRC Rolling Stock Center in Malysia, said.

In recent years, Malaysia has been investing more in its rail infrastructure than any other ASEAN country. It has undertaken a major expansion of the light rail network in Kuala Lumpur, is building a metro rail system, and is undertaking double tracking, electrification and building extensions of its main rail network.

The company says it puts strong emphasis on localizing its operations, building up skills in manufacturing and maintenance, finding and fostering Malaysian suppliers. About 80 per cent of its work force is now local.

But when it comes to its products, CRRC is looking beyond the Malaysian market.

"We always have eyes on the whole ASEAN region when gaining foothold here in Malaysia. We have attracted attention from other ASEAN countries, like receiving visits by railway delegations from Thailand and the Philippines this year," Li said.

Without doubt, the most enticing prospect in this region for global rail industry players such as the China Rail Group and CRRC is the planned 350-kilometre high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

And if called upon, CRRC confirms its Malaysian plant was designed and equipped to be able to build carriages for the HSR.

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