China's New Revolution: High-Speed Rail Service
By Peter Fairley
China has begun operating what is, by several measures, the world's fastest rail line: a dedicated 968-kilometer line linking Wuhan, in the heart of central China, to Guangzhou, on the southeastern coast. In trials, the "WuGuang" line trains (locally built variants of Japan's Shinkansen and Germany's InterCity Express high-speed trains) clocked peak speeds of up to 394 kilometers per hour (or 245 miles per hour). They have also recorded an average speed of 312 kph in nonstop runs four times daily since the WuGuang's December 26 launch, slashing travel time from Wuhan to Guangzhou from 10.5 hours to less than three.
WuGuang's speed blows away the reigning champion: France's TGV, which runs from Lorraine to Champagne and averages 272 kph. It also bests China's first high-speed train, the Beijing-to-Tianjin trains that average 230 kph, as well as Shanghai's magnetically levitated airport shuttle trains that can hit 430 kph but average less than 251 kph.
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