high speed train
November 2, 2016

Chinese firm plans to build the world’s fastest commercial maglev

A Chinese train manufacturer that is among the largest such outfits on the planet is looking to develop a new type of magnetic levitation (maglev) train that will reportedly be able to travel at record-setting speeds of 600 km/hr (373 mph), various media outlets are reporting.

According to The Verge, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) has announced that it recently began work on an approximately three-mile (5 km) track on which to test out the new train, which would easily become the fastest-traveling maglev locomotive in operation.

Currently, the fastest such train being used commercially is the Shanghai Maglev, which Smart Rail World reports travels from China’s second most populous city to the Pudong International Airport at a velocity of 268 mph (431 km/hr). However, it should be noted that reports indicate that a noncommercial US Air Force maglev has achieved a speed of 633 mph (1019 km/hr).

Furthermore, Chinese press agency Xinhua reported that CRRC is also working on a relatively tame 124 mph (200 km/hr) maglev train, and that the projects are being undertaken with the goal of establishing new technological standards for medium and high-speed maglev trains which can be used in similar systems all over the world.

New project is part of China’s recent commitment to public transport

In addition to being home to the fastest commercial maglev train system, China can also boast the largest high-speed rail network on Earth, according to The Verge. The country currently has more than 12,400 miles of completed track thanks to $538 billion in government funding.

CRRC official Sun Bangcheng told Xinhua that the new train would consume 10% less energy than the 350 km/h (217 mph) bullet trains currently in use in China. No word yet as to when the company plans to have this ambitious project completed, or how much all of this will cost.

CRRC is also working on rail projects beyond its own national borders, as it is currently leading projects underway in Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Thailand and the UK. This comes just two years after China first unveiled plans to create an ambitious maglev system capable of traveling 3000 km/hr (nearly 1865 mph) in Changsha. While it is now operational, it fell well short of that ambitious goal, topping out at a relatively modest 100 km/hr (62 mph).

Maglev trains, for those who may not know, are able to achieve far faster speeds than traditional trains because they replace the wheel-and-track system traditionally used by locomotives with an air cushion and electromagnets that simultaneously pull the front of the train and push it from the rear. Such systems are much faster and more sustainable, but also far more expensive, The Verge noted.

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