WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Trains are getting faster, and by the end of the decade they may be capable of Mach 3 speeds.
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China is a big country so naturally today they’re interested in every new fangled transportation technology that could help them move people around faster. Now, as we continue to see Hyperloop trains, that are essentially trains in a giant vacuum tube that will be capable of travelling at Mach 1 and even, in China’s case Mach 3 speeds, in the future being developed, China has unveiled a prototype for a new high speed Maglev train capable of reaching top speeds of 620 kmh, or 385 mph. And in the future they think they can push it even faster to reach speeds of 800kmh, or a staggering 497 mph.
The train runs on High Temperature Superconducting (HTS) tracks that make it look as if it’s floating along the magnetised tracks. The sleek 21 meter long, 69 feet, prototype was unveiled to media in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, complete with a 165 meter long, 541 feet, stretch of track that they used to demonstrate how the train would look and feel in transit, according to state run Xinhua News.
See it for yourself
Professor He Chuan, Vice President of Southwest Jiaotong University, which worked on the prototype, told reporters that the train could be “operational” within the next 3 to 10 years.
“Sichuan has rich rare earth resources, which is very beneficial to our construction of permanent magnet tracks, thus promoting the faster development of experiments,” he said.
China is home to the world’s largest high-speed rail network, which stretches over 37,000 kilometers, and the fastest commercially operating train – the Shanghai maglev.
The country’s first high-speed Maglev train, it began operating in 2003. Running at a top speed of 431 kmh, the train links Shanghai Pudong Airport and Longyang Road in the eastern side of Shanghai. China has been eager to make further infrastructure improvements ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will take place in Beijing.
This time last year, China unveiled a new 174 kilometer high speed railway line connecting Beijing with 2022 Winter Olympics host city Zhangjiakou, cutting the travel time between the two from three hours to 47 minutes. Then, earlier this month, the country unveilled a bullet train that was specifically designed to withstand freezing temperatures. The CR400AF-G train can travel up to 350 kilometers per hour in weather as cold as -40 degrees Celsius, -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and will run on routes between Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin – the latter of which is so cold that it hosts an annual snow and ice festival.