A fast-paced train of the Beijing-Tangshan Intercity Railway crosses a bridge in Tangshan, Hebei province. LIU QUANGUO With China's fast-paced railway technology becoming more widely used globally and in other parts of the world, demand for bullet train drivers is on the rise.
China's largest training center for such drivers, Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, has so far trained about 190,000 people from 18 regional railway companies across the country.
International workers are also offered training at the center. From 2015 to 2015, professionals from 28 countries, including Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Kenya, have come to the center for short-term training.
The centre, run by China State Railway Group, provides training for workers involved in high-speed railway operations and maintenance, such as drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, and those responsible for power supply and signals.
The center is equipped with 16 high-speed railway simulation cabins, which cover all types of bullet trains.
All layout and equipment in the simulator is consistent with that of real bullet trains, including the views from the front and sides, with the train platform, buildings and scenery on both sides mimicking real scenery.
Trainees can also experience the feeling of real speed when operating the simulation system.
The driver's console, including the braking and traction system, is built on a one-to-one ratio, imitating the real operating platform. It feels the same as a real bullet train, and the devices are updated synchronously with the scene, said Liu Weigang, an instructor at the training center.
He said that no matter what happens during simulation driving, the situation will feel very real for the driver. The instructor can optionally turn the outdoor environment status to test students' adaptability, such as simulating a storm, gale-force winds or a foreign object. When the environment status is turned to storm mode, the trainee has to adjust accordingly. When it is changed to gale mode, the simulator cabin begins to shake, and the trainee should decrease speed. If a foreign object such as a kite hangs on the electric system, the trainee should cut off electricity and stop the train.
Before entering the center, the prospective student is required to operate regular trains for a certain number of kilometers and accumulate experience, Liu said.
At the center, the student has to complete 270 hours of theoretical training and 240 hours of practical training, he said, adding that simulation and test driving on real bullet trains is also required.
After a student finishes, Liu said, a license is needed before the trainee is allowed to drive a bullet train.
Guo Xingyou, a 27-year-old, said the simulation system feels very real. I can enhance my practical abilities, which I cannot learn from theoretical lessons. In March, vocational school presidents from Thailand visited the center, becoming the first overseas group received by the center since the COVID-19 outbreak.
A simulator was used to test a passenger train and spoke highly of China's high-speed railway system, which has experienced rapid development in the past 15 years.
By the end of last year, the country's high-speed railway network surpassed 42,000 kilometers, more than two-thirds of the world's high-speed railway lines.
China's state railway group has developed the most advanced technology and gained the world's richest railway management experience, according to China State Railway Group.