China aims to beat global rivals with world’s fastest train

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Train manufacturers in China hope prototype will make tracks safer after deadly accidents

China is testing a prototype for what it hopes will be the world’s fastest train, with locomotives achieving speeds of up to 620kph (370mph).

The latest research from China’s train manufacturers, CN, CRRC and CSR, comes after last year’s “Black Death” train crash in eastern China in which 21 people were killed when a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train derailed.

“We are optimistic about the overall development of train engines in China,” said Zhou Daodong, president of CN in a statement.

He added that the Chinese train engines were at a “competitive level” on par with global competitors, and the train’s unique characteristics could help “improve train safety”.

China’s most advanced train engine The 256 kph train, which is also 5cm wider than the world’s other most powerful engines. Photograph: International Railway Fair Berlin 2019

The 250 kph train can operate on 891.7 kilometres (590 miles) of track, covering long distances between major cities and making faster two-way trains between the ports of Ningbo and Shanghai.

Two manuals are being distributed to train drivers in northern Hebei province, central China’s main rail hub.

In March, China announced plans to launch China’s longest railway line in history in 2022, connecting Beijing and Shanghai to the north-east coast by rail in just over eight hours.

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China is making record investments in the country’s rail network to cut traffic congestion, and have more trains running and better connections between main centres, but it is Europe and the US that are its biggest competitors in boosting speeds on trains.

“The US is producing trains with high-speed speeds, and the European Union and Japan are also increasing speed,” Liu Xiaoyuan, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told state media.

Chinese high-speed rail tracks are expected to reach a maximum speed of 500 kph, which would make them among the fastest in the world.

In September last year, a 1,200 kph (700 mph) high-speed train with stops between Wuhan and Jinan travelled through the Chinese capital, and more than 480kph was reported by railway services.

The Chinese government is aiming to have 5,000 miles of high-speed lines by 2020, according to a report by state media.

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