China unveils prototype of 385mph 'super bullet maglev train'


China has unveiled the prototype of a super-fast bullet train that engineers say can reach 385 miles per hour.

Dubbed as the ‘super bullet maglev train’, the model rolled off the production line and made its debut at a ceremony in the south-western city of Chengdu on Wednesday.

It boasts more than twice the speed of the Eurostar fleet and could cover the distance between London and Paris in 47 minutes with its maximum speed. 

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A prototype of a high-temperature superconducting maglev train, dubbed as the 'super bullet maglev train', is pictured at its debut ceremony in China's Southwest Jiaotong University on Wednesday

A prototype of a high-temperature superconducting maglev train, dubbed as the ‘super bullet maglev train’, is pictured at its introduction ceremony in Chengdu, China, on Wednesday

The model is a 21-meter-long (69-foot-long) locomotive designed to travel at a top speed of 620 kilometres (385 miles) per hour. It has been developed solely by Chinese experts

The model is a 21-meter-long (69-foot-long) locomotive designed to travel at a top speed of 620 kilometres (385 miles) per hour. It has been developed solely by Chinese experts

The train is the first of its kind in the world and has been designed and manufactured solely by Chinese experts, according to its co-developer, Southwest Jiaotong University. 

The university collaborated with two state-run companies, China Railway Group and CRRC Corporation, to develop the prototype in a 60million yuan (£6.8million) transport innovation programme, reported Xinhua News Agency. 

What are ‘maglev’ trains?

Maglev trains use magnets to lift the carriages above the track.

This eliminates the need for wheels and, therefore, any incidence of friction, providing faster and quieter service.

Acceleration and deceleration far exceed that of conventional trains.

And maglev also makes for much smoother journeys.

Right now speeds are limited at up to 400 kilometres (250 miles) per hour due to the excessive air resistance encountered at these speeds.

But vacuum tube designs could allow them to travel over seven times faster in the future.

The homemade prototype is a 21-meter-long (69-foot-long) locomotive designed to travel at a top speed of 620 kilometres (385 miles) per hour. 

It uses high-temperature superconducting (HTS) maglev technology, different from the low-temperature technology employed by Germany and Japan in their maglev trains, according to experts from Southwest Jiaotong University.

The team claims that the Chinese version is more lightweight with a simpler structure. It is also cheaper to manufacture and operate. 

The engineers consider the HTS technology more suitable for the futuristic ‘vacuum transportation’, which could see ultra-high-speed maglev trains zipping in vacuum tubes in speeds over 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) per hour.

‘The HTS technology can make the train float without electricity, and it can be moved with just one hand,’ Deng Zigang, a professor from the university, told Xinhua.

Pictures and footage released by Chinese media outlets show the silver-and-black carbon-fibre locomotive pulling into its presentation at Southwest Jiaotong University.

The university also launched an experimental railway track on Wednesday. The line, measuring 541 feet (165 metres) long, will be used to test the prototype and related technologies.

The prototype uses high-temperature superconducting (HTS) maglev technology, different from the low-temperature technology used in maglev trains made by Germany and Japan

The prototype uses high-temperature superconducting (HTS) maglev technology, different from the low-temperature technology used in maglev trains made by Germany and Japan

Southwest Jiaotong University also launched an experimental railway track on January 13. The line, measuring 541 feet (165 metres) long, will be used to test the prototype

Engineers consider the HTS technology more suitable for the ‘vacuum transportation’, which could see maglev trains zipping in vacuum tubes at over 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) per hour

China has the world’s largest high-speed railway network, which measures a staggering 35,000 kilometres (21,747 miles) as of 2019. 

At present, the country’s high-speed passenger trains operate at a maximum speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) per hour. Residents can travel between Beijing and Shanghai, the nation’s political and financial centres, in 4.5 hours.

China also has the world’s first commercial maglev system.

The 18.6-mile (30-kilometre) stretch, opened in 2002 in Shanghai, connects Shanghai Pudong Airport and the city centre and reportedly cost more than £1billion to build.

Southwest Jiaotong University also launched an experimental railway track at the Wednesday ceremony. The line, measuring 541 feet (165 metres) long, will be used to test the prototype

Southwest Jiaotong University also launched an experimental railway track at the Wednesday ceremony. The line, measuring 541 feet (165 metres) long, will be used to test the prototype

The train is jointly developed by Southwest Jiaotong University, China Railway Group and CRRC Corporation in a 60million yuan (£6.8million) transport innovation programme

The train is jointly developed by Southwest Jiaotong University, China Railway Group and CRRC Corporation in a 60million yuan (£6.8million) transport innovation programme

The Shanghai maglev was jointly developed by Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development and a German consortium consisting of Siemens AG, Thyssen Transrapid GMBH and Transrapid International GMBH.

It is the world’s fastest commercial train system, with carriages running up to 431 kilometres (267 miles) per hour.

Japan built the fastest-ever train in the world to date, but has yet to put it into commercial use.

The maglev train, operated by Japan Railways Group, set the world record after reaching 603 kilometres (374 miles) per hour on an experimental track in 2016.

China has more than two-thirds of the world’s high-speed railways

Passengers board a 'Fuxing' high-speed bullet train on Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway line before it leaves the Cangnan railway station on November 20, 2017

Passengers board a ‘Fuxing’ high-speed bullet train on Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway line before it leaves the Cangnan railway station on November 20, 2017 

China has the world’s largest high-speed railway network, which measures a staggering 35,000 kilometres (21,747 miles) as of 2019, according to China Central Television Station.

The distance is more than two-thirds of the world’s total.

The country’s total railway coverage is 139,000 kilometres (86,370 miles), enough to wrap the Earth three times by the equator.

China is investing heavily in the construction of its rail system. 

It plans to spend no less than 2.8 trillion yuan (£307 billion) building no less than 23,000 kilometres (14,291 miles) of new railways between 2016 and 2020, according to a government plan. 

Xinhua News Agency reported that Beijing completed its largest-ever investment in railway construction between 2013 and 2017.

Nearly 30,000 kilometres (18,641 miles) of tracks, more than half of which are high-speed rail, were complete at a total cost of 3.9 trillion yuan (£428 billion). 

The country’s newest high-speed train model is ‘Fuxing’, or ‘Rejuvenation’, which runs at a speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) an hour.

The model before ‘Fuxing’ is called ‘Hexie’, meaning harmony.



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