Shanghai-Beijing train breaks world speed record
China's railways ministry has announced that the new Shanghai-Beijing bullet train has broken a world speed record, hitting a top speed of 486.1 kilometers per hour in a test run, breaking its own record set just two months ago. The record is the highest speed attained by an unmodified train for commercial use.
The French TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) holds the land speed record for a modified train and track at 574.8 km per hour. The record was achieved under special rail test conditions along with a shortened train, engines with increased power output and larger wheels.
"[Breaking the world speed record] not only marks a milestone in the construction of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, but also is a major achievement of China's technological innovation," said ministry spokesman Wang Yongping.
Although none are questioning the record, some have doubts about Wang’s assertion that the train reflects Chinese innovation.
Some foreign high-speed train producers who taught China how to make a bullet train disagree with the comment, writes the Wall Street Journal. The news outlet reports rumblings that although the record might be China's, the technology is not. The “trains remains more or less identical to the technology foreign companies provided [to China] originally half a decade ago,” the article states.
Regardless of where the technology comes from, the new high-speed rail line will cut train travel between Beijing and Shanghai from 10 hours to four. This is comparable to the current two-hour flight between the cities, which is closer to four hours when you factor in travel to the airports, checking in and security checks and the all-too-common delays. But the train won’t be open to commuters until 2012.
The new Shanghai-Beijing line is part of China’s expansion of the country’s railroad system, which will have 120,000 kilometers of track by 2020. By 2012 China will have spent an estimated US$120 billion to double the country’s railroad capacity.
The addition of more railways lines is particularly crucial now as companies move from the eastern coast of China toward the country’s interior.