Sword-inspired Chinese train hits 311 mph in testing
By Eric Mack
January 1, 2012
China's state press agency, Xinhua, reports that the country's largest rail vehicle maker has debuted a six-car train more than twice as powerful and 200 km/h (124 mph) faster than the high-speed models currently in service between Beijing and Shanghai. The new electric test train can draw a maximum of 22,800 kilowatts and is reportedly capable of reaching speeds as high as 500 km/h (311 mph), making it one of the fastest trains ever designed for commercial passenger use.
China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Limited (CSR) says the train is the newest in its CRH series and its aerodynamic shape is inspired by an ancient Chinese sword. It is constructed from plastic materials reinforced with carbon fiber, resulting in a lightweight, aerodynamic vehicle capable of higher speeds than the CRH380 train on which it is based.
The unveiling comes in the wake of recent concerns over rail safety in China. Two high-speed trains collided last July, killing 40 people and injuring almost 200. Acknowledging the heightened public anxiety caused by the accident, CSR's chairman told Chinese media that its new high-speed model might not ever run at top speed when put into service, emphasizing that the company will ensure safe operation over swiftness.
But such safety assurances come as China's government is pushing forward on a bold plan to build-out a national high-speed rail network with 10,000 miles (16,093 km) of track serving all major cities by the end of the decade.
An earlier iteration of the CRH series reached a top speed of 486 km/h (302 mph) in test runs. While the absolute rail speed record for an unconventional train of 581 km/h (361 mph) is held by a Japanese experimental magnetic levitation (MagLev) train, closely followed by a specially-tuned version of the French TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), which was reduced to 3 cars and supplied with higher voltage to take the conventional train record of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph), the new CRH model is likely to be one one of the fastest ever designed for regular commercial passenger use if and when it enters service.
China does have a passenger MagLev train in operation in Shanghai, but the cost of building out enough of the specialized track to meet China's ambitious high-speed rail goals would likely be prohibitive, making faster wheeled trains like the CRH series more attractive.
Watch the video below of the train's reveal and let us know if you're impressed.
Source: China Daily