China to Resurrect the World's Fastest Train
China will make a return to the bullet train business later this year.
The country who relied so heavily on high-speed railways will introduce seven pairs of bullet trains, according to state media. The whole project is named Fuxing, which means 'rejuvenation.' 'National rejuvenation' is a theme constantly promoted by China's president Xi Jinping.
'Rejuvenation' could also refer to reigniting the country's once thriving rail lines. In 2011, a devastating crash in the Zheijiang province forced China to put a hold on pushing the trains' limits. Prior to the crash, the bullet trains traveled at a maximum speed of 350 km/h. Faulting signaling systems led to the original crash. China's Center for Public-Private Partnerships researcher Zhao Xu was one of the several public voices calling for the pause in the bullet trains.
"If there is a design flaw, it means the case is not isolated and might affect all the high-speed lines," Zhao said in 2011. "The trains should be stopped until the investigation discovers what went wrong."
After the accident, China reduced the bullet trains' maximum speeds to 250-300 km/h (155 - 186 mph). However, these new bullet trains seem to be making up for lost time -- literally. Current plans note that a new route between Beijing and Shanghai cuts an hour out of how long it currently takes to get from one city to the next. That route currently stands as one of the world's most used transportation lines. Over 600 million passengers have used that line since 2011. That particular line also remains the most profitable in China. Estimates range that it brings in a profit of roughly $1 billion USD or 6.6 billion yuan. The train that ran that line -- the Harmony CRH 308A -- was developed by CSR Qindao Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock. It embodied unity for student engineers across China, as its design was literally a result of multiple Chinese university research teams.
According to the Associated Press, "China has laid more than 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of high-speed rail, with a target of adding another 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) by 2020."
"China has spent an estimated $360 billion on high-speed rail, building by far the largest network in the world."
So what took the bullet train's place after the crash in 2011? Italy's AGV Italo. That rail system operated at roughly 225 mph, according to Railway Technology. The site calls the AGV Italo "the most modern train in Europe."
Sorry, Italy, but it looks like you'll be losing that title once China relaunches the bullet trains after September 21. Authorities have successfully tested the 350 km/h speeds on several portions of the line last month, the South China Morning Post reported. Officials are convinced not only that they can sustain that speed through the whole line but also that they can raise the speeds to up to 400 km/h.
For some comparison, Elon Musk's Hyperloop One project recently topped out at 308 km/h during development. It will hit 402 km/h (250 mph) while in testing. However, it seems China will get to that speed first -- and Chinese commuters are elated to see the return of the bullet train.
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