China tries to catch up to Japan with maglev train that can exceed 600km/h

State-owned company plans to produce high-speed maglev train by 2020

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 8:45pm

Eighteen months after Japan tested a state-of-the-art maglev train with a top speed of more than 600km/h, a state-backed Chinese railway company has announced plans to develop similar technology.

The competition between the two Asian countries over the next-generation train technology comes as Beijing and Tokyo lock horns in vying to construct overseas high-speed railway lines.

State-owned China Railway Rolling Stock announced last month that it would start research to produce a high-speed maglev train by 2020, People’s Daily reported on Monday. A maglev train designed and built by local firms began a trial run in Changsha in May, but its maximum speed is only 100km/h.

China already has a commercial maglev line that runs between the city of Shanghai and Pudong International Airport, with a top speed of 430km/h, which was developed and built with the help of a German consortium.

China starts trial run of first home-designed and built maglev rail line

People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, reported that a maglev line could be developed between Beijing and Shanghai to cut travel time to two and half hours. The current high-speed train takes about 5 hours to travel between the two Chinese cities.

Japan has the edge in this technology. Japan tested a maglev train with speeds that reached 603km/h in April last year, breaking its own speed record set just a week earlier.

While China is a relative latecomer in high-speed train technology, it is catching up quickly.

China has the advantage of scale of developing railway lines for its vast territory, and state funding. The nation has built about 20,000km of high-speed railway lines in a decade, and is continuing its spending spree on railways.

Abe pitches Japan’s maglev trains to the US, touting New York to Washington in 40 minutes

Abroad, China has been in a hotly contested race with Japan to export high-speed rail technology in recent years.

China won against Japan for the bid to build a fast rail project in Indonesia, which would link the capital Jakarta with the city of Bandung. However, in August, Thailand chose the Japanese bid for a railway to connect Bangkok and Chiang Mai.