27th December 2012
China opens the longest high-speed rail route in the world
China's capital Beijing is now linked to Guangzhou in the south by a 1,436 mile (2,298 km) high speed rail route.
This dwarfs the 819 mile (1,318 km) route between Beijing and Shanghai which opened in June 2011. The new line is described by officials as "one of the most technically advanced in the world" and will cut the previously 20-hour journey to just 8 hours. It has a total of 35 stops, with trains running at 186 mph (300 km/h), although the line is designed to accommodate future speeds of up to 220 mph (350 km/h). The route will be extended to Hong Kong by 2015.
China already has the world's biggest high speed rail (HSR) network, covering over 5,800 miles (9,300 km) of routes. As it continues to grow and become more developed, the country has even bigger ambitions. With $300 billion of investment between 2010 and 2020, it will construct over 11,000 miles (17,600 km) of new HSR lines, reaching 5 billion journeys per year and giving 90% of its population access to the network.
Trains are also being developed for other lines that could eventually travel at 625 mph (1,000 km/h), shattering previous speed records. These would use vacuum tubes which avoid the problem of heat from air friction.