Beijing-Shanghai hi-speed rail marks milestone in rail history

The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway, which is scheduled to open soon, represents a milestone in Chinese and even world railway history. It is even more significant than the high-speed railways linking Beijing to Tianjin, Wuhan to Guangzhou, Zhengzhou to Xi’an, Shanghai to Nanjing, or Shanghai to Hangzhou.

The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway is an important component of China’s high-speed railway network, which is mainly made up of four north-to-south and four east-to-west trunk lines. As the world’s longest high-speed railway, the 1,318-kilometer-long railway runs through seven provinces and municipalities —Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai — and links two major economic zones, the Bohai Economic Rim and the Yangtze River Delta. It is designed to run at a top speed of 350 kilometers per hour and will run at 300 kilometers per hour at the initial stage. The railway has overcome considerable construction difficulties and features new technologies as well as high technical and environmental standards.

The railway is a monument to the support of all Chinese people and to the efforts and wisdom of more than 100,000 construction workers. History will always remember their contributions and achievements.

The construction, debugging, test runs and personnel training for the railway have all been completed, so it is completely ready for operation and will be officially opened in late June. With a regular speed of 300 kilometers per hour, it will cut the railway travel time between Beijing and Shanghai to slightly over four hours. Currently, even the fastest train from Beijing to Shanghai, which runs at 250 kilometers per hour, takes some 10 hours to travel between the two cities.

Mankind has long had the dream of pursuing higher speeds. Railways have a history of 186 years in the world or 135 years in China. China independently designed its first railway 102 years ago, and this year is the 150th birthday of China’s railway pioneer Zhan Tianyou.

The relationship between the Chinese people and railways has evolved from fear of the damage by railways to local “Feng Shui” to independent design and construction of China’s first railway line, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Railway. The construction of railways started by foreign powers in China for further invasion, but afterwards followed a mass campaign of reclaiming railway construction rights from foreign powers.

Rail has grown from yesterday’s “outdated industry” in China to today’s longest high-speed rail around the world, and China’s high-speed rail was mentioned six times by U.S. President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address.

The significance of China’s high-speed rail has long gone beyond the rail itself. China’s high-speed railway industry has undergone a path of reform and innovation and completed the phases of import, assimilation and invention of high-speed railway techniques.

The birth of any kind of new thing will always come with doubts, suspicions and even slander. Some are suspicious of China’s independent innovation capacity and have criticized China’s high-speed railway industry for copying others. The most effective counterattack against this kind of views is just like that: since China was suspected of copying foreign countries’ high-speed railway techniques, why can China’s high-speed trains run as fast as 350 kilometers per hour compared to the maximum speed of 320 kilometers per hour for their foreign counterparts? How could China increase the speed by 30 kilometers per hour through copying?

The high-speed rail has enhanced the national confidence of the Chinese people. Since China’s high-speed trains are the fastest in the world, why is it that other sectors of China, the world’s second largest economy, cannot progress further? China’s success in the high-speed rail sector has proved that Chinese people should particularly cherish the superiority of China’s socialist system.

Just like Zhang Weiwei, a famous scholar, said in “China’s Shock,” “As China’s high-speed railways are accompanied by mankind’s greatest urbanization process, China’s three world-class economic circles are connected by four-to-five-hour high-speed railways and China’s high-speed railway network binds half of China together. China’s high-speed railways have brought China not only changes in the speed but also the transformation of the time-space concept and the revolution of the Chinese lifestyle. It also brought the formation of the world’s largest uniform market and the gradual embodiment of the China standard during the global modernization process.”

China’s high-speed railways brought the speed and provoked deep thought about the Chinese model, the China standard and the Chinese road. Let us quote a verse from Rabindranath Tagore “Do not linger to gather flowers to keep them, but walk on, for flowers will keep themselves blooming all your way” to wish a bright future for Chinese railways and China.

People’s Daily Online

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