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Communication & Technology

Super-fast trains on drawing board

Mainland authorities have revealed plans to develop a “super-high-speed train” that can reach speeds of 500km/h or more.

Rail experts were surprised by the news, with some calling the plan “ridiculous”.

The Ministry of Science and Technology on Wednesday released a five-year plan on high-speed train research and development, stressing the need to address issues of speed, safety, energy efficiency and developing export markets.

But perhaps most shocking was that making the trains faster topped the ministry’s to-do list.

“Continuously increasing train speeds … meets the demand of our country’s high-speed-rail development strategy,” the document said.

Mainland researchers were asked to study and develop a “super-high-speed train system” in “super-high-speed conditions”. And to start with, they will be given an experimental train that was built last year with a top speed of 500km/h.

The ministry did not reveal the cost of the project.

On safety – undoubtedly the public’s top concern after a number of high-speed-rail accidents last year – the ministry plans to develop various technologies such as an “intelligent” train-control system that automatically detects problems, diagnoses them and decides how to solve them.

Wang Mengshu, deputy chief engineer of China Railway Tunnel Group and a drafter of the country’s high-speed-rail blueprint, said yesterday that he opposed plans for a super-high-speed train.

The mainland’s high-speed rails were built for trains operating at 350km/h, the professor said.

“The Ministry of Science and Technology has made a ridiculous decision,” Wang said. “We can guarantee safety up to 385km/h, but rails that will sustain the grind and impact of super-high-speed trains, with speeds over 400km/h, have never been built and will never be.

“Instead of endlessly increasing speed, the limited manpower and resources should be invested in studies that improve safety and quality.”

Professor Zhao Jian, an economist with Beijing Jiaotong University and an outspoken opponent of the rapid expansion of the high-speed-rail network, said super-high-speed trains would not be economical, even if they overcame hardware hurdles, including safe rails.

“It would be as uneconomical as making a jumbo jet fly at sea level,” Zhao said.

The ministry did not respond to a South China Morning Post request yesterday for more details of the project, but in the document it cited scientific and technological benefits in justifying the development of a super-high-speed train.

The super-high-speed technology would also place a higher benchmark on the quality of hardware and software, thus providing a greater margin of safety on lower speed systems, the document said.

“An overseas buyer might be impressed, reasoning that if we can make a train run safely at 500km/h, we can make it run very safely at 300km/h,” Zhao said. “So the only benefit of super-high-speed trains that I can think of is marketing.”

China set an ambitious goal during the financial crisis in 2008, setting the total length of the nation’s high-speed rail network at 16,000 kilometres by 2020.

But last year’s disaster in Wenzhou Zhejiang province that killed 40 people and severely damaged the public perception of China’s high-speed rail technology forced authorities to lower the trains’ operating speeds from 350km/h to 300km/h.

Stephen Chen
South China Morning Post

About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee


4 thoughts on “Super-fast trains on drawing board

  1. Reblogged this on Craig Hill.


    Posted by Craig Hill | April 20, 2012, 8:13 pm
  2. “ridiculous”.- the right word for it !!!!


    Posted by viveka | April 21, 2012, 5:01 am


  1. Pingback: China: World’s longest high-speed rail line set to open « China Daily Mail - December 16, 2012

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