China expands high-speed railway network

Ekaterina Volozova

BEIJING—(October 21, 2010—M4relay)– China is aiming to be the world’s leader in high speed railway development, according to the Chinese Ministry of Railways.

There are plans for the development of a super-speed train with a speed capacity of up to 500 km/per hour. According to official standards, a high-speed railway is anything that exceeds 200 km/per hour (120 mph.) In that case, China already has the world’s longest high-speed railway network, with about 7055 km (4,383 mi.) of routes in service as of September 2010, including 1,995 km (1,240 mi.) of rail lines with top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph).

The high-speed railway system in China includes upgraded conventional rail lines, newly-built high-speed passenger trains, as well as the world’s first high speed commercial magnetic levitation line.

Some of the most famous examples of high speed train networks in the country include the Wuhan- Guangzhou high-speed railway, which travels 968 kilometers (601 miles) in 3 hours reaching top speeds of 350 kilometers per hour (220 mph) and averaging 310 kilometers per hour (190 mph); the Beijing- Tianjin intercity railway, which travels 117 kilometers (73 mi) in 30 minutes, the Shanghai Maglev Train, which travels, 30.5 km (19 mi.) in 7 minutes and 20 seconds.

By the end of 2011, a high speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai should be finished. This will cut the amount of time needed for travel from 10 hours to six.

Not only is China building high-speed railway networks inside the country, but is also going international, and helping to produce high-speed railroads in the United States, reported the New York Times.

The Chinese government has signed agreements with the State of California and General Electric, to help build high-speed railway lines in the region. “We are the most advanced in many fields, and we are willing to share with the United States,” said Zheng Jian, the chief planner and director of high-speed rail at China’s railway ministry, reported the New York Times. Governor Schwarzenegger has plans to visit China particularly to find out more about high-speed rail discussions.

China’s international railway system has a reputation of high speed and at the same time low cost, and has opened about 1,200 miles of high-speed rail routes just only this year.

China has begun to build high-speed railway systems in many countries around the world. There is currently construction going on in Venezuela, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. There are plans to build a railway system between Rio de Janerio and San Paulo in Brazil.

In California, the rail authority intends to spend $43 billion to build a route from San Francisco to Los Angeles, reported the New York Times. There are also later plans to build a line between Sacramento and San Diego and maybe in the future from Los Angelos to Las Vegas.

Plans for high-speed railways in China began as early as the 1990s. It was proposed then to build a high-speed railway system between Beijing and Shanghai. At that time, commercial train service speed in China was only about 48 km/h (30 mph). In December 1994, the Guangzhou- Shenzhen Railway became the first line in China to offer a service of 160 km/h using domestically-produced locomotives. In 1998, this line was electrified, a third track was completed in 2000, and a fourth in 2007. This line became the first in China to run high-speed passenger and freight service on separate tracks.

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