Chinese high speed rail development once again looks to be outpacing much of the rest of the world – hitting the locomotive equivalent of a clean energy “Sputnik moment” – via news of another bullet train record being broken. The official state run media outlet Xinhua News Agency reported one of China’s trains “broke the world record for unmodified commercial use…during trial service,” hitting a recorded speed of 486.1 km/h, or 302 mph, while on a run between Zaozhuang City of Shandong Province and Bengbu City in eastern Anhui Province.
The CRH380a model, which recently traveled at almost 260 miles per hour between the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou, is the one which broke this more recent record as well. The speed traveled by this train built by CSR Qingdao Sifang broke a previous record of 416.6 km/h (258 mph) set on Sep. 28. It is said by Xinhua that the new speed traveled is “as fast as a jet plane at low-speed cruising.”
The system this train has been traveling on is part of a larger design connecting Beijing and Shangahi, which saw track laying completed back in mid-November. Said to be the world’s longest high-speed line, the 1,318 km (819 mile) journey is scheduled for operation in late 2011. Travel time on the 220.9 billion yuan (33.3 billion U.S. dollars) project “will be slashed to about four hours from the current 10 hours.”
The CRH380a, as far as bullet trains go, is a fast one, being is designed to travel “a maximum speed of 380 km/h (236 mph) during regular operations, and can keep a constant speed of 350 km/h (217 mph).”
In looking forward, the Chinese Ministry of Railways said, plans are in place for 13,000 km (8,078 miles) of high speed rail track by 2012. It is believed this will make it so “train travel time between Beijing and all provincial capitals, except Haikou on the southernmost island province of Hainan, Urumqi in farwest Uygur Autonomous Region, and Lhasa of Tibet Autonomous Region, will be within eight hours.”
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