This Article is From Oct 26, 2010

China inaugurates world's fastest train

Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province: With two trains gliding silently out of a glossy new station, China's latest high speed rail line opened on Tuesday, as officials proudly boasted of setting world records using domestic technology.

Many, but not all, of the trains plying the new railway between Shanghai's western suburb of Hongqiao and Hangzhou will travel the 200 kilometres (126 miles) in 45 minutes, about half the time trains usually take to make the trip at their fastest speeds.

The China-made CRH380 train has been clocked at almost 420 kilometres per hour (kph) (262 miles per hour (mph)), a world speed record, though it will usually operate at a maximum speed of 350 kph (220 mph).

China aims to have 13,000 kilometres (10,000 miles) of high speed rail in operation by 2012.

The efforts to develop China's own ultra high speed rail technology is a showcase project seemingly nearly on a par with the country's space programme in terms of national pride and importance.

Railway officials recently announced they were working on technology to boost speeds to over 500 kph (312 mph).

One of the biggest high-speed rail lines under construction is a 32.5 (b) billion US dollar, 1,318-kilometre (824 mile) Beijing-to-Shanghai high-speed railway that is scheduled to open in 2012.

That line will halve the travel time between China's leading cities to five hours.

High speed railways now connect many of China's cities, helping to reduce overcrowding on the countries heavily used lines.

But the replacement of slower lines with more expensive high-speed trains has prompted complaints from passengers reluctant to pay higher fares, especially on shorter routes.

Though the brand new trains were impeccably clean and the service attentive, Hangzhou's own grimy, unrenovated railway station lacks services and facilities to match.