At 281 miles an hour, China's new high-speed maglev train is the world's fastest

High-speed trains offer eco-friendly alternatives to air transport and can haul people and cargo without the need for specialized tracks.
Ameya Paleja
Stock image of high speed trains in Beijing
Stock image of high-speed trains in Beijing


China's next-generation high-speed train has set a new record as it sped at 281 miles (453 km) per hour during a test run, EurAsian Times reported. Its relative speed, when two trains move in the opposite direction, reached a mind-blowing 553 miles (891 km) per hour.

High-speed rail systems offer a highly efficient mode of transport to haul people and cargo between destinations. In an age when countries are looking to reduce their carbon emissions, electrified and energy-efficient trains can offer eco-friendly alternatives to air transport.

By clocking at higher speeds, trains can further reduce the time deficit of travel between the two modes of transport. For instance, the distance between the capital city of Beijing and Shanghai could take only 2.5 hours on a train traveling 248 miles (400 km) an hour, similar to what a flight typically takes.

CR450 Technology Innovation Project

China is home to the largest railway network in the world and also operates a magnetic levitation-powered train service in Shanghai. Using electromagnetic technology, the train is levitated above the rail to eliminate friction and can travel at speeds up to 310 miles (500 km) per hour.

However, maglev technology is not deployed everywhere in China, and the country is looking to improve the speeds of its trains on existing infrastructure. The China Railway 450 Technology Innovation Project is one such project that was outlined in the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

Earlier this year, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Railway Sciences revealed that the CR450 was closer to getting ready and that China Railway recently completed a test run along a section of its network from Fuqing to Quanzhou in East China's Fujian Province.

The tests were carried out on the Meizhou Bay cross-sea bridge, which is one of the major parts of the 172-mile (277-km) Fuzhou-Xiamen high-speed railway. The country has conducted more than 57 experiments to verify the reliability and feasibility of new technologies used during the CR450 project, a CGTN report said.

At 281 miles an hour, China's new high-speed maglev train is the world's fastest
The train during its test run on Meizhou Bay cross-sea bridge

High-speed trains: China vs. Rest of the world

The Japanese Shinkansen, popularly known as the bullet train, was put into operation in 1964 and operated at a top speed of 136 miles (220 km) an hour. Modern-day versions of these trains can now operate at 198 miles (320 km) per hour.

South Korean high-speed rail network KTX is capable of traveling at speeds of 261 miles (421 km) per hour, while Italy's Frecciarossa has been engineered to travel at 248 miles (400 km) per hour.

China's recent accomplishment, where the CR450 train clocked 281 miles (453 km) per hour, puts it ahead of the high-speed trains currently operating in different parts of the world.

Another China Railways project CR Fuxing is currently in testing and can reach speeds of 260 miles (420 km) per hour. Interestingly, the Fuxing trains do not contain any technology that is patented or licensed by other train makers, showcasing China's ability to make faster trains through homegrown innovations.

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