Even faster

China’s ma­glev train builder eyes reach­ing 600 km per hour


China Rail­way Rolling Stock Corp Ltd, the coun­try’s rail­way ve­hi­cle and equip­ment ex­porter, will start re­search­ing and de­vel­op­ing a mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion or ma­glev train that can reach 600 km per hour— the fastest train of its kind cur­rently in ser­vice.

The group will build a ma­glev rail line up to 5 kilo­me­ters to test the train. The project will be led by CRRC Qing­dao Si­fang Co Ltd in Shan­dong prov­ince, one of the coun­try’s three bul­let train mak­ers, the com­pany said in a state­ment.

CRRC will also de­velop ma­glev trains with speeds of up to 200 kph at CRRC Zhuzhou Elec­tric Lo­co­mo­tive Co in Hu­nan prov­ince.

“The goal for these two projects is to es­tab­lish do­mes­tic tech­nol­ogy and stan­dard sys­tems for new-gen­er­a­tion medium and high-speed ma­glev trans­porta­tion that can be ap­plied glob­ally,” said Sun Bangcheng, deputy di­rec­tor of CRRC’s of­fice for ma­jor project de­vel­op­ment.

The to­tal in­vest­ment in these projects will reach 3.22 bil­lion yuan ($476 mil­lion). The govern­ment will al­lo­cate 433 mil­lion yuan, and the re­main­der will be raised by CRRC.

Com­pared with other types of ur­ban rail trans­porta­tion, Sun said ma­glev trains are quiet and can achieve high speeds be­cause they don’t ac­tu­ally ride on rails with wheels but hover cen­time­ters above the track through the use of mag­nets, avoid­ing the slower speeds caused by fric­tion.

The world’s first ma­glev line was launched in Shang­hai in 2002, con­nect­ing a metro sta­tion to Shang­hai Pudong In­ter­na­tional Air­port. With speeds of up to 430 kph, its 30-kilo­me­ter route takes less than eight min­utes to travel.

Beijing is also cur­rently build­ing a low-speed ma­glev ur­ban rail route — the S1 line — which will start in north­ern Beijing’s Haid­ian district, pass through Shi­jing­shan district and end in Men­tougou district in the city’s western out­skirts. The 11-kilo­me­ter line will be­come oper­a­tional by the end of next year.

CRRC will also start re­search and de­vel­op­ment of cross-border high-speed trains that can run at 400 kph and al­ter­nate be­tween dif­fer­ent track gauges rang­ing from 60 cm to 1.676 me­ters.

“Such trains will con­sume 10 per­cent less energy than the coun­try’s 350 kph bul­let trains cur­rently in use,” said Sun Fuquan, a re­searcher spe­cial­ized in rail­way ve­hi­cles at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy for De­vel­op­ment in Beijing.

China has seen the rapid de­vel­op­ment of its high-speed rail­ways in re­cent years, with their to­tal length ex­ceed­ing 20,000 kilo­me­ters, the world’s long­est high-speed rail net­work.

The coun­try started op­er­a­tion of its first home-grown ma­glev rail line in May, with trains run­ning at a max­i­mum speed of 100 kph in Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Hu­nan prov­ince, con­nect­ing the city with Chang­sha Huanghua In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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