China’s new high-speed passenger-train service broke world speed records on its maiden run over the weekend.
According to a report in Monday’s Financial Times, the Harmony express train travelled from Guangzhou in Guangdong province to the central-China city of Wuhan – a distance of 1,100km (684mi) – in under three hours.
The previous rail service between the two cities took about 11 hours.
The Harmony has a top speed of 394kph (245mph), and during its inaugural run it averaged 350kph (217mph), well faster than the 300kph (186mph) “maximum service speed” of France’s TGV and Japan’s Shinkansen, aka Bullet Train.
By contrast, the FT points out that it takes the US’s Amtrak Acela Express three and a half hours to traverse the 300km from Boston to New York City – although that train has hit 217kph (135mph) in time trials.
China’s Harmony express train isn’t a mere demonstration project – it’s scheduled to make the cross-country trip 56 times per day.
“Expressways are not suited for China, which has large numbers of people but little space to spare,” government adviser Zheng Tianxiang told the FT. “China should learn from Japan and Europe.” By which he meant more rail, and fewer expressways and freeways as exist in the US.
The Harmony system wasn’t cheap. State reports have put costs at $17bn over the system’s four-and-a-half year construction period, but government officials declined to confirm those numbers to the FT.