The future of high-speed rail in China

2010-09-19China travel Guide

The future of high-speed rail in China China already has the world's longest high-speed rail (HSR) network with about 6,920 km (4,300 mi.) of routes in service as of July 2010, including 1,995 km (1,240 mi.) of rail lines with top speeds of 350 km/h (220 mph).

China's high speed rail lines consists of upgraded conventional rail lines, newly-built high-speed passenger designated lines (PDLs), and the world's first high-speed commercial magnetic levitation (maglev) line. China's HSR network is undergoing a building boom. With generous funding from the Chinese government's economic stimulus program, 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) of high-speed lines are now under construction. The entire HSR network will reach 13,000 kilometers (8,100 mi) by 2012 and 16,000 kilometres (9,900 mi) by 2020.

China is the first and only country to have commercial high-speed train service on conventional rail lines that can reach a top operational speed of 350 km/h (217 mph). Notable examples of high-speed train service include the Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, a national trunk line that travels 968 kilometres (601 mi) in 3 hours reaching top speeds of 350 kilometres per hour (220 mph) and averaging 310 kilometres per hour (190 mph); the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, an intercity express line that covers 117 kilometres (73 mi) in 30 minutes, reaching top speeds of 330 kilometres per hour (210 mph) and averaging 234 kilometres per hour (145 mph); and the Shanghai Maglev Train, an airport rail link that travels 30.5 km (19 mi.) in 7 minutes and 20 seconds., averaging 245.5 km (152.5 mph) and reaching top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph).

China's high speed trains use a wide range of domestic and imported technologies from Germany, Canada, France, Japan and Sweden. The Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway set to open before 2012 will use the new 380A train made by Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd., which can reach a top operational speed of 380 km/h.

By the year 2014 large blocks of China will be connected by high-speed, reducing the time for travel between major centers, the journey from Beijing to Shanghai will be less than 4 hours while the time from Beijing to Guangzhou will be less than 8 hours. The benefit for China is two-fold, firstly, China will have create a much more fluid labour-market with workers and managers able to travel rapidly and cheaply between major centers, secondly, the shipping speed of heavy good will also be greatly reduced creating a significantly more efficient logistical network with the freeing up of existing dedicated passenger lines.

China's high-speed rail system project is ambitious and when the major rail lines are completed by 2020, it will become the largest, fastest, and most technologically advanced high-speed railway system in the world.]China's Ministry of Railways plans to build 25,000 km (16,000 miles) of high-speed railways with trains reaching speeds of 350 km/h. China will invest $50 billion on its high-speed rail system in 2009 and the total construction cost of the high-speed rail system is $300 billion.

Once again the ambition and foresight of the Chinese government is delivering possibly the largest body of capital works ever undertaken at a record cost with a view to benefiting all the peoples of China as well as create a greener society. The ambition and vision of the Chinese government should be congratulated and encouraged; this really is a direct line to the future.

--- By Brett Hartley-Wilson (VisitOurChina)