China developing 500 kph trains

China is developing a new high-speed train that could reach speeds of up to 500 kilometers per hour, or as fast as some small airplanes, a railway official said Tuesday.

He Huawu, chief engineer at the Ministry of Railways, said in a speech at the International Railway Bridge Technology Forum in Wuhan, Hubei Province, that the nation is busy working on the new trains.

"We want to lead the world in high-speed railway construction," He said, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

China created a world record on June 24, 2008, when the Beijing-Tianjin CRH3 high-speed train hit 394.3 kilometers per hour.

The newer high-speed technology is in its final phase of development, He said.

Experts said that they believe trains that could travel 500 kilometers per hour are just in the research phase.

"As long as we can prove that the train can run without slipping at such a high speed, we have achieved our goal. It is just an experiment," Wang Mengshu, a professor at the Tunnel and Underground Engineering Research Center at Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times Tuesday.

"Our aim is to tell the world that China has the ability to achieve this goal," he added.

As of September, there were 7,055 kilometers of high-speed tracks in China and construction is underway to build another 10,000 kilometers, Xinhua reported.

A high-speed train in eastern China set a new speed record during its trial service last month, highlighting the nation's position in the fast-train industry.

The China-made CRH380A train hit 416.6 kilometers per hour - a world record - during a trip from Shanghai and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.

The train was designed to run as fast as 350 kilometers per hour on the 202-kilometer-long railway between the two cities.

It will make its debut operation officially at the end of this month. Some 80 million passengers are expected to travel the route every year.

Travel time between the two cities was slashed to less than 40 minutes from more than two hours after the train was put into service.

By 2012, a 110,000-kilometer network of rails will include 13,000 kilometers of high-speed rails, the ministry said earlier.

The 1,318-kilometer Beijing-to-Shanghai high-speed railway, which cost about 220.9 billion yuan ($32.5 billion), is scheduled to open in 2012.

The train will cut travel time between Beijing and Shanghai by half to less than five hours.

He, the engineer, estimated the length of high-speed rails would hit 50,000 kilometers in the near future, connecting all cities with a population of more than 500,000.

( Xinhua ,October 20 , 2010 )