China’s high-speed trains hit 400km/h

World Today

Photo: CFP

China is developing a next-generation bullet train that can run at 400 kilometers per hour (about 250 miles per hour) and is suitable for cross-border services, Jia Limin, a senior researcher with the nation’s high-speed rail program said on Sunday.

Jia, who is a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University and head of China’s high-speed rail innovation program, spoke about the initiative at a 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) Technology and Innovation Achievements Exhibition in Beijing.

“The train, to be developed in the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), will have wheels that can be adjusted to fit various gauges on other countries’ tracks. Current trains need to have their wheels changed before entering foreign systems,” said Jia.

“Once the new bullet train is put into service, it will operate on China’s rail network as well as on the Moscow-Kazan high-speed line in Russia, which is designed for 400 km/h trains,” he added, referring to the 770 kilometer (480-mile) link that connects Moscow and Kazan, a metropolis on the Volga River. The rail line is a joint venture between China and Russia.

According to an agreement by Chinese and Russian authorities, the Moscow-Kazan line is likely to be extended to Beijing, which will significantly reduce rail travel times between the two nation’s capitals.

Wheels on trains traveling between China and Russia currently have to be changed before crossing the border because the gauges are different. The new bullet train will not require this procedure, saving time and money, Jia said.

Currently, high-speed trains in China run at speeds ranging from 250 to 300 km/h (124 to 186 mph), although their maximum possible speed is about 350 km/h (217 mph).

Jia also said China has begun to test an ultra-fast bullet train that could potentially travel at 600 km/h (373 mph). The train has been developed by CRRC Qingdao Sifang Company, a subsidiary of the country’s largest train maker, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, in East China’s Shandong Province.

The ultra-fast train is being used to trial cutting-edge technologies, advanced materials and to test operational limits, the professor said.

However, Liu Youmei, a bullet train expert and academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering said that, under current conditions, the maximum speed for high-speed railways should not exceed 400 km/h (250 mph) because higher speeds will incur much higher operation costs.

He said these ultra-fast trains should only be used for demonstrating new concepts and technologies, rather than commercial operation.

Story by China Daily and CCTV.