China Rolls Out World-Beating Home-Made Maglev
China has unveiled its self-developed maglev train capable of travelling up to 600 kph (373 mph), as the country moves to improve its well-established rail network led by high-speed trains.
The progress on what would be the world’s fastest train paves the way for rolling out maglev trains for wider commercial use, although more test runs on longer maglev lines that support superfast speeds need to be conducted.
The train, which has been under development by gigantic railroad-equipment maker CRRC Corp. Ltd. (601766.SH) since 2016, rolled off the production line in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao on Tuesday. This means China’s homebuilt high-speed maglev transport system is ready for large-scale use, CRRC Chairman Sun Yongcai said in a Tuesday statement (link in Chinese).
Maglev, or magnetic levitation, is a system in which powerful magnets lift a train up off a single, central rail and propel it forward. The lack of friction allows maglev trains to be faster, quieter, smoother and less damaging to rail lines than conventional trains.
The train could fill a gap by providing speeds faster than the current high-speed rail that runs at up to 350 kph but slower than airplanes, according to the statement.
In 2019, CRRC finished manufacturing a prototype of the maglev train, and it conducted a trial along a 1.5-kilometer track at speeds of less than 50 kph in Shanghai last June. High-speed tests at 600 kph are yet to be conducted.
China currently has just three maglev train lines in operation due to safety and profitability concerns. The nation’s only high-speed commercial line is a 30-kilometer track in Shanghai with a maximum speed of 431 kph, which was launched in 2006 and uses core technology from Germany. Two medium- and low-speed lines are operated in the central city of Changsha and the capital Beijing, respectively.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, has vowed to promote the construction (link in Chinese) of high-speed maglev lines between megacities and test routes in the coming years through 2035, as part of efforts to build up a comprehensive transportation network.
Multiple Chinese cities are heeding the national call, with plans for lines to connect the South China cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the eastern cities of Hefei and Wuhu, as well as the megacities of Beijing and Shanghai.
Contact reporter Luo Meihan (email@example.com) and editor Flynn Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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