Feature: Chinese locomotive maker keeps up production in Malaysia despite coronavirus outbreak

On a day at around 10:00 p.m. in May, a train left the Rolling Stock Center of Chinese rail transit equipment manufacturer CRRC in Batu Gajah of Malaysia's Perak state for testing.

Onboard the train manufactured for Malaysia's Electric Train Service (ETS) was Wang Xinyu, 34, from CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd. (CRRC ZELC). He was assigned to CRRC's rolling stock center in Malaysia in February 2019, to lead the after-sale service team of the ETS2 Project. During the testing, Wang constantly monitored and checked the status of the train under different speed.

It was 5:00 a.m. in the morning next day when the test was completed.

"The field testing was suspended for two months due to the COVID-19 outbreak and was only resumed on May 12," said Wang. "We are now doing the testing before the train is delivered to our customers for operation."

Wang and his colleagues worked day and night to make up for the lost time due to the outbreak. In daytime, they would check the various functionalities and parts of the train while doing filed testing at night.

"We have been working around to clock in both our domestic and overseas manufacturing facilities in order to make sure that the orders are delivered on time," said Wang.

CRRC made its inroad into Malaysia in 2010, signing a contract with Malaysia's Ministry of Transport to export 228 Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) vehicles to the country. The ETS trains manufactured by CRRC has been running in Malaysia between the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and norther border town of Padang Besar since 2015, carrying more than 10,000 daily passengers.

As China and Malaysia deepens cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative including on transportation, CRRC has prioritized its localization in Malaysia, including building the rolling stock center in Perak as its manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia.

The CRRC rolling stock center became fully operational in 2015, and it is where the ETS2 trains have been manufactured by CRRC's Malaysian staff, according to Huang Hai, who oversees the operations in the rolling stock center.

CRRC now has three subsidiaries in Malaysia with 90 percent of local staff. In addition, CRRC has facilitated technology transfer related to railway by training almost 1,000 local talents and has contributed to local economic development by building long-term cooperation with more than 600 local suppliers. 

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