China is planning to construct a super high-speed rail network that will shrink travel times in the Middle Kingdom to less than it took you to get to the office this morning. According to Sina, the technology is being developed by Chinese rolling stock manufacturer CRRC, who want to make use of magnets to catapult cruising speeds up to 1,000kph and eventually 2,000kph.
China’s ‘Super HSR’ would snap the journey between Beijing and Shanghai down to an almost unimaginable half an hour, while journeys between the capital and Wuhan, Xi’an, and Changsha – all currently over 5 hours – will be similarly as swift.
This all sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but researchers have been laying the tracks to Super HSR for a few years now. American aerospace company, SpaceX, first began research into magnetic train technology in 2013, increasing potential travel speeds to 310kph earlier this year. In China, CRRC claim to have found a way to increase this to 600kph – fast, but not quite 30 minutes to the Bund fast.
So when do we get our magic space train? Both SpaceX and CRRC have been unsurprisingly quiet about when the locomotives will start pulling out of Beijing South, and the skepticism runs deeper. Researchers at Chongqing’s Southwest University have found three key problems that may (ironically) slow down project development. Namely, designing a track that can support such speeds, keeping production costs out of the astronomical, and designing special stations which among other ludicrous logistical hurdles, must operate in a vacuum for the trains to be able to pull in and out of. We don't know about anyone else, but we quite like breathing during our commute...
China’s dream train may still be a flight of fancy, but the idea of getting from Shanghai to Beijing faster than it takes your Sherpa's order to arrive is also pretty cool. Don’t expect light speed any time soon, but it will be interesting to see how this project develops.
By Sebastian Morgan