China’s largest railway developer, CRRC, officially plans to develop a prototype a new Maglev train that could reach speeds of over 600km/h (327mph) by 2020.
The train (an official rendering pictured at top) could potentially be the fastest in the world, and may even surpass the world record of 602km/h set by a Japanese train in 2015.
The world's fastest Maglev train, in Japan.
CRRC first announced its plans to build a five kilometer test track back in 2016.
Technical plans for the Maglev were officially approved by a review committee of 19 experts last week, China Daily reports.
"As the plan has been reviewed, we will move to the stage of design construction," Ding Sansan, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Sifang, a wholly owned subsidiary of CRRC, was quoted as saying. “According to the schedule, we will develop one sample carriage this year, while the prototype of the whole car will be tested on a five-kilometer route by 2020."
Just how fast is 600km/h? At that speed, a journey between London and Paris could be cut to 34 minutes, while the trip from Shanghai to Beijing — which normally takes around six hours on the high-speed train — could take just three hours.
Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) trains use electric currents rather than fossil fuels to provide thrust, essentially allowing them to float above their tracks. They are able to achieve higher top speeds through aerodynamically designed trains combined with miniscule amounts of rail friction, offering smoother (and quicker) rides all round.
Beijing began operating its first Maglev train in 2017, and Shanghai already runs the world’s first commercially-operated Maglev line, flying passengers from the city to Pudong International Airport
China’s first homegrown Maglev line was opened in Changsha in 2016, while the world’s first commercially-operated Maglev line in Shanghai has been flying people from the city to Pudong International Airport at 431km/h since 2004. Last year, Beijing also debuted its own Maglev.
And if you think that's impressive, CRRC is apparently also considering devising a 'Super HSR' capable of reaching speeds of up to 1,800km/h. It remains to be seen if that's technically possible, however.
[Top image via China Daily]