Chinese engineers today finally displayed the world’s fastest train which has a top speed of 220mph (355km/h).
The long-awaited launch of the bullet train – dubbed “Chang’e 4” after the mountains that make up its route – is the latest effort to transform China into a global manufacturing powerhouse.
The train looks set to make its debut on the popular high-speed rail link between Beijing and the coastal city of Guangzhou, which opened in 2012.
Just a day before the official launch, the rail ministry confirmed that six of China’s 55 rolling stock manufacturers were presenting prototype trains.
Work started in 2005 on the Chunkou project. The scheme to create the world’s first bullet train was first announced by President Hu Jintao in 2006, but its €27bn price tag was hampered by the financial crisis and environmental protests over its impact on the Himalayan and taiga forests.
The Chunkou railway currently runs at a speed of 200mph but the top speed has yet to be finalised for the new train. In tests in March the Chunkou 4 reached a peak speed of 220mph.
On completion of its construction the bullet train will have the capacity to carry some 1,000 passengers.
Tibet, Pakistan and Myanmar are other countries where railways have been a factor in rebuilding transport.
Earlier this year, Ma Jian, a former China Railway Corp engineer, published a landmark study that revealed China’s high-speed trains are the least reliable on the world’s urban rail network.
The report analysed railway commuter data collected by PPP Institute and MIT’s Transportation Sustainability Project between 2004 and 2014. It found that 15% of passengers were delayed by at least 30 minutes because of slow trains in high-speed rail systems compared with just 3% on city lines.
China has invested more than £77bn into its high-speed rail network since 2008, with plans to extend services from Tokyo to the US west coast, expanding capacity by up to 25 times.