China’s unveils the world’s fastest train link; Electrified network surpasses 30,000 kms, earning # 2 spot in the world

December 26, 2009 at 1:08 pm

(Sources: AFP via Yahoo; Xinhua, Times of India)

China on Saturday (Dec 26) unveiled what it billed as the fastest rail link in the world — a train connecting the modern cities ofGuangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) an hour.

The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 kilometre journey to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven and a half hours, the official Xinhua news agency said. Work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand a high-speed network aimed at eventually linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, Xinhua added.

The train can go 394.2 kilometres per hour, it’s the fastest train in operation in the world,” Zhang Shuguang, head of the transport bureau at the railways ministry, told Xinhua. By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan was 243 kilometres per hour while in France it was 277 kilometres per hour, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the link, according to Xinhua.

Test runs for the service began earlier in December and the link officially went into service when the first scheduled train left the eastern metropolis of Wuhan on Saturday.

To sweeten the news further, a report published on the Xinhua quoted the China CREC Railway Electrification Bureau Group (CCREBG) stating that China’s electrified railway mileage has surpassed 30,000 kilometers, ranking the second in the world, said.

It achieved the goal with the completion of a 1,422.2-kilometer electrified railway line which connects Beijing and Lehua in south China’s Jiangxi Province on Saturday, according to the CCREBG. The project, involving an investment of more than 7.6 billion yuan (or1.112 billion U.S. dollars), will increase the trains’ speed from 120 kilometers to 160 kilometers per hour and raise the transportation volume from 3,500 tonnes to 6,000 tonnes by each train. Congratulations, China.

The era of high speed railway began in China in 2004 when Guangzhou was linked to Shenzhen, both in Guangdong Province, with a train traveling at 160 km per hour. This was followed by the launch of a high-speed line linking the capital with the port city of Tianjin at the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The government recently announced it plans to build 42 high-speed lines by 2012 in order to spur economic growth amid the global downturn. China has unveiled a massive rail development program, considered to be the world’s biggest plan outside the United States. The goal is to take the rail network from the current 86,000 kilometers to 120,000 kilometers.