Last month, Chinese researchers announced that they were working on a new generation of high-speed trains that could reach a max speed of 500 km/h. Apparently, that still isn’t fast enough for some.
CRRC Corp Ltd, China’s largest rail transportation equipment maker, has said that it has started research and development on a new type of maglev train that could reach 600 km/h, far faster than anything else in operation today.
Xinhua reports that the company will build a 5km-long track to test out its new invention, whenever they actually figure out how to build it.
Maglev is short for “magnetic levitation.” Instead of running on fossil fuels, these types of trains run on magnets and electric currents, smoothly gliding above the track. CRRC says that it will need to improve its levitation and traction technology before developing this next set of maglevs.
In fact, we already know that maglev trains are capable of reaching speeds of 600 km/h plus. In April 2015, Japan broke its own speed record with a maglev that topped out at 603 km/h, but commercial operation of these trains is still a long way away, with concerns about the infrastructure cost of building lengthy maglev tracks.
But China has never been short of optimism when it comes to really fast trains. CCTV News projects that this kind of maglev could travel from Shanghai to Beijing in just two hours. Currently, high-speed trains make the 1,088km-trip in a leisurely 5 hours.
China is already currently home to the fastest commercial train in the world — the Shanghai Maglev which takes travelers to the Pudong International Airport. Its top operational speed is 431 km/h.
In May of this year, China introduced its first homegrown maglev line in Changsha, transporting passengers from the south railway station to the airport at a not terribly impressive top speed of 100 km/h.
This all must come as quite the disappointment after a Chinese research team unveiled a prototype for a maglev train that could possibly reach 1,800 km/h back in 2014.
In less ambitious news, CRRC also announced plans to develop maglev trains that travel at just 200 km/h, hoping to provide a more energy conscious form of medium to high-speed transport around the globe, as well as high-speed trains that can run at 400 km/h and alternate between different track gauges, making crossing borders a breeze, Xinhua reports.
Currently, China leads the world with over 20,000 kilometers of high-speed track. That is projected to expand to 30,000 km by 2020 and then grow to 45,000 km by 2030. At the same time, it’s attempting to lay high-speed rail lines across the entire surface of the Earth. China has made bids to build high-speed rail networks through the UK, Australia, Southeast Asia, Iran and Mexico, and already they are working on building 3,000 km of high-speed rail in Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia and Russia.
Most recently, China built Ethiopia a railway to the sea.
[Images via Xinhua]