China unveils fastest train in the world

China has launched what it claims as the fastest rail link in the world on Saturday, costing 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion USA).

The train will run on its maiden 621 mile journey between the central city of Wuhan to the southern city of Guangzhou. The line stretches more than 1,000 km and will slash the travel time from Wuhan, Hubei province, to Guangzhou in Guangdong from 10 hours to just three.

At an average speed of 217 miles per hour, the high-speed train reduces the 664 mile ride from ten and a half hours to just three hours, an official Xinhua news agency said.

"The train can go 394.2 kilometres per hour, it's the fastest train in operation in the world," Zhang Shuguang, head of the transport bureau at the railways ministry, told Xinhua.

"High-speed rail has three advantages over air travel: it is more convenient, more punctual and has a better safety record. This could help erode the airlines' market shares," said Si Xianmin, chairman of China Southern Airlines, the largest domestic airline by fleet size.

Japan's high-speed trains operate at 150 miles per hour, while in France they run at an average speed of 172 miles an hour.

To deal with this threat, China Southern Airlines last week unveiled several counter measures, including cutting ticket prices from Wuhan to Guangzhou by almost half for advanced purchases.

The company also signed a deal with airports in Wuhan and Changsha to give priority to flights to Guangzhou to ensure punctuality.

China plans to have high-speed rail services running between 70 percent of key cities by 2020, which would cover more than 80 percent of the airline network.

About 16,000 km of railway for 350-km/h trains will be built on the mainland in the next 10 years, according to a blueprint by the Ministry of Railways. By 2012, work will be completed on 42 high-speed links covering 13,000 km, the blueprint showed.

The network uses technology developed in co-operation with foreign firms such as Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom.

Source - AFP, China Daily, Fox News, ITN



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