Traveling across China by high-speed train may get even faster. Aiming for speeds of 400 kilometers per hour, the nation’s high-speed railway network could be on the brink of an exciting new era. But what are the safety measures and other hurdles for experts to clear?
What began as research and development 25 years ago has put China on top of the high-speed railway world. By the end of 2017, China’s HSR mileage exceeded 25,000 kilometers nationwide, two-thirds of the global total.
Both the construction and operation scale now rank first worldwide. However, experts say reaching these heights was not easy.
“In the beginning, some EMU trains were not suitable for our country’s route requirements and operational environment, so we needed to do a lot of technical analysis. Our Harmony trains encountered many difficulties during the application process, for example, if one train had any issue, other trains could not rescue it. Based on all these challenges, we decided that we must develop our brand with our independent intellectual property rights, like the Fuxing EMU train,” said Zhao Weihong, the principal researcher of China Academy of Railway Sciences.
Currently, over 5,000 high-speed trains run daily across China, transporting more than five million passengers in less than half the travel time as before.
From 2007 to 2017, China’s railway passenger volume increased by 127.3 percent. Officials say the nation’s reform and opening up laid the foundation for China’s HSR technology innovation and large-scale railway construction.
The Deputy Director of Department of Science and Information Technology in China Railway, Qi Yanhui said: “The reform and opening-up helped rapidly develop our country’s urban and rural economies, and people’s living standards. Also, people themselves now have more desire to travel, to see our beautiful landscapes. The original railway could not meet travel demand or requirements, which promoted the development of our high-speed railway technology and network construction.”
Officials say China will continue to pursue HSR technology and speed up EMU trains in the future.
“We are working on technology innovation, experimental verification, and the safety concerns of higher speeds, as high as 400 kilometers an hour. We will provide a timeframe after getting a comprehensive demonstration from the needs of the national economy, the needs of the people, and the safety test verification, etc.,” said Qi.
“In the future, we will focus more on different speed levels and green intelligence. We use intelligent technology on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Intercity Railway and Beijing-Xiong An high-speed railway,” said Zhao.
China’s rapid development pace, large-scale construction, and huge transport capacity all enable the country to set higher goals for the future of its high-speed railway network.