China has unveiled a prototype magnetic levitation train that could travel at a maximum speed of 600 kilometres per hour (kmph). According to the CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co, the train's manufacturers, it could also pose major competition to the airline industry once operationalised.
This could be a major breakthrough by China in the high-speed maglev trains. The CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co is a wholly owned subsidiary of China.
This project could also help the company to check and optimize key technologies and core system components of the high-speed maglev system and lay a technological basis for an engineering prototype, according to Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team and deputy chief engineer of CRRC Qingdao
"The prototype has already achieved static levitation and is in ideal condition," Sansan told media in Qingdao.
"We are building an experimental centre and a trial production centre for high-speed maglev trains and expect to put them into operation in the second half of the year," he said, adding that research and development of a five-carriage engineering prototype is proceeding smoothly.
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The engineering prototype is expected to roll off the production line next year and in 2021 to undergo comprehensive testing and be made ready for commercial manufacturing.
Currently, Chinese high-speed trains can operate at a maximum speed of 350 kilometres per hour. Meanwhile, the cruising speed of commercial aircraft is about 900 kilometres per hour. This new 'flying train' could narrow the gap between high-speed rail and air travel.
In 2015, a Japanese maglev train reached 603kilometres per hour on an experimental track in Yamanashi Prefecture. Japan also plans to put its 500 kilometres per hour maglev trains into operation by 2027.
The world's first maglev line which is capable of speeds reaching 430 kilometres per hour was launched in Shanghai in 2002 and it uses German technology. It connects the subway station to Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
The high-speed maglev trains have advantages including reduced noise and vibration, larger passenger capacity and lower maintenance costs in comparison with standard bullet trains,
(With agency inputs)