Environment Science and Technology

China built the world’s fastest train

China unveiled the world’s fastest train, a maglev train capable of a top speed of 600 km/h as it stamps its name on the world map on infrastructural development. 

Developed by the state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, A maglev bullet train made its debut in Qingdao, China in July 2021. It is considered the fastest ground vehicle globally. 

“Maglev” is an abbreviation of “magnetic levitation.” The train appears to be “floating”. Using electromagnetic force, the maglev train “levitates” above the track with no contact between body and rail. 

Liang Jianying, deputy general manager and chief engineer of CRRC Sifang, said during the launch that in addition to its speed, the train emits low levels of noise pollution and requires less maintenance than other high-speed trains.

China has been using the technology for almost two decades on a very limited scale. Engineers have completed the integration of the maglev transportation system, and a train with five carriages has been running well on a test line within the factory, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) said.

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Launched in October 2016, the high-speed maglev train project saw the development of a magnetic-levitation train prototype with a designed top speed of 600 km/h in 2019 and conducted a successful test run in June 2020.

While there are no inter-city or inter-province maglev lines yet in China that could make good use of the higher speeds, some cities including Shanghai and Chengdu have started to conduct research. 

With the ability to reach 600 km/h once it gets up to speed, it’s estimated it would only take 2.5 hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai by train — a journey of more than 1,200 kilometres. 

The journey takes a comparable amount of time by plane and 5.5 hours by high-speed rail. 

The train can travel with two to 10 carriages, each holding more than 100 passengers, according to Ding Sansan, chief engineer of the project. The train provides the best solution for trips within the range of 1,500 km, Ding said, adding it fills the speed gap between aviation and high-speed trains.

Other countries such as Japan and Germany are also seeing to build maglev networks, although high costs and incompatibility with current track infrastructure remain hurdles to rapid development.

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