Science

China builds world's fastest train, capable of 600 km/h

China has unveiled a maglev train capable of a top speed of 600 kilometres per hour, state media said.

Maglev train could go from Shanghai to Beijing in 2.5 hours, versus 5.5 hours by high-speed rail

China unveils train that can go 600 km/h

2 months ago
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China's new maglev train, which uses electro-magnetic force to 'levitate' the train above the track with no contact between the train cars and the rail, is capable of a top speed of 600 km/h, according to state media, making it the fastest in the world. (CNSphoto/Reuters) 0:33

China unveiled a maglev train capable of a top speed of 600 km/h, state media said Tuesday. 

The maximum speed would make the train, self-developed by China and manufactured in the coastal city of Qingdao, the fastest ground vehicle globally. 

Using electro-magnetic force, the maglev train "levitates" above the track with no contact between body and rail. 

China has been using the technology for almost two decades on a very limited scale. Shanghai has a short maglev line running from one of its airports to town.

While there are no inter-city or inter-province maglev lines yet in China that could make good use of the higher speeds, some cities including Shanghai and Chengdu have started to conduct research. 

With the ability to reach 600 km/h once it gets up to speed, it's estimated it would only take 2.5 hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai by train — a journey of more than 1,200 kilometres. 

The journey takes a comparable amount of time by plane and 5.5 hours by high-speed rail. 

Launched in October 2016, the high-speed maglev train project saw the development of a magnetic-levitation train prototype with a designed top speed of 600 km/h in 2019 and conducted a successful test run in June 2020.

Engineers have completed the integration of the maglev transportation system, and a train with five carriages has been running well on a test line within the factory, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) said.

The train can travel with two to 10 carriages, each holding more than 100 passengers, according to Ding Sansan, chief engineer of the project. The train provides the best solution for trips within the range of 1,500 km, Ding said, adding it fills the speed gap between aviation and high-speed trains.

Countries from Japan to Germany are also looking to build maglev networks, although high costs and incompatibility with current track infrastructure remain hurdles to rapid development.

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