Go East, Young Man!

IEC TC 9 50th meeting in China highlights growing importance of Asia in TC work

By Morand Fachot

In the electrotechnical domain, the importance industries or countries attach to a particular sector are good pointers to their actual participation in the work of IEC TCs (Technical Committees). The growing contribution of participants from the Asia-Pacific region in IEC TC 9: Electrical equipment and systems for railways, is a perfect example of this.

Chinese high-speed train in Changsha station Chinese high-speed train in Changsha station

The huge railway electrification plans in both China and Japan, and their extensive high-speed train programmes, reflect the weight both countries attach to modern electric railway transport.

Narrow initial focus

The first meeting of what was then called the “Advisory Committee on Traction Motors”, established in April 1924, was held in London, UK (United Kingdom) in July 1924. The scope of what was to become IEC TC 9 was originally limited to tramway motors, before being extended later to include railway motors.

IEC TC 9 now prepares International Standards that cover railway networks and metropolitan transport networks. These standards relate to systems, components and software and deal with electrical, electronic and mechanical aspects, the latter being limited to items depending on electrical factors.

The geographical span of this TC was also limited in the early years. Europe was overwhelmingly represented in what was to become TC 9: 15 out of the 19 participants in the first meeting came from Europe, three from the US (United Sates) and one only from Asia (Japan). Most of the meetings (nine out of 10) in the early years were held in Europe.

Eastern expansion

If Japan was represented from the launch of this TC, China's participation in it is more recent.

China became an IEC member in 1957, and Chinese delegates attended a TC 9 meeting for the first time in 1963. Since then, Chinese involvement in TC 9 work has never abated, and three TC 9 plenary meetings have been held in China, including the 50th meeting.

Reflecting their involvement in train technology and in particular their high-speed train programmes, both China and Japan are among the top three most active members in terms of number of experts in TC 9 WG (Working Groups). They also lead a number of TC 9 PTs (Project Teams), WGs and ad hoc groups.

This greater involvement of two participants from the Asia-Pacific region in the work of a particular IEC TC is not unique; it reflects what is happening in other TCs and the growing participation of experts from all regions of the world in IEC work.

IEC TC 9 meeting in China

The 50th meeting of IEC TC 9, was held in Changsha, China, on 26-28 October 2010. Apart from dealing with normal TC business and reviewing projects, the meeting offered a unique opportunity to look at what is now a more geographically balanced aspect of this TC, compared to its early years.

Delegates paid visits to the CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Research Institute Co. Ltd, in Zhuzhou and to the CRCC (China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co.) in Wuhan.

Charles Jacquemart, IEC Technical Officer from the IEC Central Office, gave a presentation to CRCC engineers and officials on the IEC, its mission, structure and work. The objective of this extensive presentation was to familiarize CRCC engineers with standardization work and to encourage them to take an active part in it.

Delegates to the TC 9 meeting also had the opportunity of making a short trip between Changsha and Zhuzhou on a high-speed train that reaches speeds in excess of 320 km/h. China is currently building some 2 000 km of high-speed railway tracks every year.

Chinese high-speed train in Changsha station Chinese high-speed train in Changsha station
Zhuzhou (China) railway station Zhuzhou (China) railway station
Lineup of Japanese Shinkanzen high-speed trains Lineup of Japanese Shinkanzen high-speed trains