China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation unveiled the production version of its maglev bullet train in Qingdao on Tuesday, reports Reuters. State media says the train has a top speed of 373 mph, or close to half the speed of sound (767.29 mph).
That speed not only makes it the world’s fastest train, but it also makes it the world’s fastest land vehicle. Magnetic levitation allows the bullet train to run at such high speeds. The vehicle’s body is levitated less than two inches from the rails and propelled forward along the tracks by electro-magnetic force. Because it travels on an air cushion, friction is much minimised, allowing it to travel faster than regular trains with continually in touch wheels and rails. Despite the fact that China has been using the technology for several decades, it has only ever been deployed on a small scale.
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China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation’s maglev bullet train
China Railway claims that its bullet train will significantly reduce journey time. According to Reuters, the vehicle will be able to travel 754 miles between Beijing and Shanghai in just two and a half hours at top speed. By plane, it takes just over three hours, five and a half hours by current high-speed train alternatives, or 12 hours by car to make the same trip. This may make the railway a particularly appealing mode of transportation for business travellers in the country.
It’s currently unclear when the new bullet train, which can pull between two and 10 passenger cars, will go into operation. The vehicle that the company showed off on Tuesday is the finished article, though, unlike the prototype the company unveiled in the spring of 2019.
Of course, the train’s speed record may not last long. According to New Atlas, the Central Japan Railway Company is now testing a maglev train with a top speed of 375 mph. However, that isn’t likely to happen until 2027 at the earliest. That gives China plenty of time to fine-tune and update its bullet train, as well as increase its top speed. Let the race for ultra-fast bullet trains begin.