A Chinese trainmaker has begun research on developing a maglev train which will run at 600 km/h — an announcement that while impressive seems a bit less so after another Chinese company revealed last month plans to develop a “flying train” with a max speed of 4,000 km/h.
Also, the news is a bit less exciting because we honestly thought that this process had already been kicked off. Last October, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), the country’s largest rail transportation equipment maker, said that it had started research and development into a new type of maglev train that could reach 600 km/h, far faster than anything else in operation, capable of traveling between Shanghai and Beijing in just two hours.
But that appears to have just been a false start with Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of the CRRC Industrial Research Institute, announcing last week that his company had launched special research project into high-speed railcars. With funding of 9 billion yuan, the project is tasked with looking into a variety of high-speed rail options, including two types of maglev trains, one that will run at 200 km/h and another that will run at 600 km/h. The project will be completed by 2021.
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. However, commercial operation of these trains is still a long way away, with concerns about the infrastructure cost of building lengthy maglev tracks, not to mention safety concerns.
China is already currently home to the fastest commercial train in the world — the Shanghai Maglev, built with German technology, which takes travelers to the Pudong International Airport. Its top operational speed is 431 km/h.
Last May, 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. Last month, Beijing’s first maglev train, also homegrown, went into trial operation, it also runs at a leisurely 100 km/h.
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