China's New Revolution: High-Speed Rail Service

High-speed rail is seen as a clean way to boost the expansion of China's transportation system.

Published: 12-Jan-2010

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.


Italy pioneered some of Europe's first high-speed rail lines.

New high-speed rail lines all over Europe are giving airlines serious competition.

SNCF TGV high-speed train in France.

French experience has shown that high-speed rail operates most effectively between large cities that are around 1,000 to 1,500 kilometers (600 to 930 miles) apart.

Illustration of what solar-powered bullet train might look like, courtesy of Raymond Wright.

The train would require 110 megawatts of electricity and would operate with solar power generated from overhead panels.


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