China debuted a new prototype high-speed rail system on Friday, with the aim of building a network covering more than 800 miles. The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation displayed the 620 kph (382 mph) “TG520” prototype in Shanghai. It will carry passengers in 37 local-to-national trains and 26 intercity trains, with high speed internet and mobile phone integration — a wireless system so that passengers will have a single account that can be activated from anywhere. The prototypes, designed by engineers from the Renmin University of China, will also have a new announcement system featuring two microphones.
“The new speed is the result of a year-long preparation work,” according to the official Xinhua news agency. “[The crew] worked hard to ensure the braking system was computer-adapted to the design, the cars were built very high up on the tracks, the electronic signaling system was all installed, the speakers, and the light systems were in perfect shape.”
After the testing has been finished, the new train network is expected to launch in 2021. Though China is the world’s largest manufacturer of locomotives, and the largest manufacturer of passenger and freight trains in the world, it has never been considered a global innovator in the high-speed rail industry. In 2015, it began construction of a high-speed corridor to connect to Guangzhou and Hong Kong, its first international foray into high-speed rail.
The 4,295-mile (7,000 km) Qinghai-Tibet railway — the world’s longest — is the centerpiece of the Xiabuanglong high-speed rail network, with the faster rail cutting up to 90 minutes off the journey. Though the railway has been running since December 2015, the network is far from complete, and many planned stations are unused or incomplete.
Since 2015, about 150 million people have traveled on the Qinghai-Tibet railway, and 24 million people have used it for international travel, according to an official statement. According to the Xinhua news agency, the network is expanding daily, and by 2050, China plans to have “approximately 1,500 kilometers (roughly 900 miles) of inter-city and regional high-speed trains.” The trains are expected to cost 13,700 yuan ($2,900) per trip (roughly $2,800 USD), according to Xinhua.
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