Faster bullet trains on horizon as China’s research dividends pay off

In January of last year, general provisional technical specifications for the CR450 EMU were released by the national railway operator.


A new Fuxing high-speed train developed by CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co goes into operation. [Photo provided to]

March 14, 2023

BEIJINGExpert deputy says new model has potential of speeds up to 450 km/h

China is already at work on developing an even faster bullet train, which will be known as the CR450, according to a national political adviser.

Zhao Hongwei, chief researcher of the China Academy of Railway Sciences and a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told China Daily the more advanced model, which has a top operating speed of 400 kilometers per hour and the potential to reach speeds of up to 450 km/h, will soon be unveiled.

Zhao also said that by the time the CR450 is in operation, the national railway network will have been extended to 165,000 km, 50,000 km of which will be high-speed lines.

Plans to develop the faster bullet train were outlined in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), she added.

In January of last year, general provisional technical specifications for the CR450 EMU were released by China State Railway Group, the national railway operator.

“By the end of last year, we drew up technical specifications for 13 of the EMU’s subsystems, and also carried out early experiments,” Zhao said.

“Based on the specifications and requirements, we are working on the train’s technical design. The general design and schemes for the subsystems are expected to be finalized next year, and the train will be completed in the near future.”

Zhao oversaw the development of China’s first self-designed bullet train, which is known as the Fuxing, or Rejuvenation. The difficulties researchers are facing now are not the same as the ones they faced while developing the first generation of Fuxing trains.

“We have no reference from other countries to work from,” she said. “We have to be pioneers and find the solutions needed to build a train capable of a speed of 400 km/h.”

The noise level at that speed is capped at 3 decibels higher than the level on a train traveling at 350 km/h, which is as fast as current highspeed trains can run in China.

“We have to lower the noise level on the new trains to ensure passengers are comfortable. It is challenging work,” Zhao said.

However, she is confident that the CR450 will be more advanced than its global peers once it makes its debut.

Zhao also called for improving the standards system for railways and promoting international recognition of the system’s safety certification.

“Standards are an important foundation of national socioeconomic development, and also a core element of industrial development,” she said.

As its railways have rapidly developed, China has created a standards system. To promote high-quality development, it is necessary to further strengthen and improve the system and the formulation of relevant standards, Zhao said.

“We should create a more comprehensive system of standards, not only for bullet trains, but also for other fundamental infrastructure such as rail tracks, communication infrastructure, signals and inspection technology.”

With the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese railway equipment is being used in many countries. To sell trains to European countries, multiple certificates are required, which takes time, money and effort, and affects supply.

The need for multiple certificates is also a burden on companies.

“If our standards system and certifications are recognized internationally, this will eliminate the need for multiple certifications,” Zhao said.

China has been working on improving its system of railway standards.

Last year, two international standards for high-speed railway infrastructure design and power supply were published by the International Union of Railways. Largely drafted and developed by China, they demonstrate its contribution to promoting the internationalization of high-speed railway standards, according to China State Railway Group.

The country’s railway system, particularly its high-speed railway network, has developed rapidly over the past 15 years.

By the end of last year, the network covered 155,000 km, of which 42,000 km were high-speed lines, accounting for more than two-thirds of the world’s high-speed lines.

As a result of significant progress and major breakthroughs achieved in a short period, China has the most comprehensive technology and the widest railway management experience in the world, according to China State Railway Group.

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