Trains fly on Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway
Updated: 2011-06-28 09:02
BEIJING - Like a main artery, the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway connects the heart of China with its vital areas.
The 1,318-kilometer link, starting from Beijing and ending at Shanghai, chains together the country' s prosperous Pan-Bohai and Yangtze River Delta economic zones, speeding up the movement of people, goods, information and capital.
But with a sustaining speed of 300 kph, the Electric Multiple Units (EMU), independently developed and manufactured by Chinese locomotive giants of CSR and CNR, are flying like a bullet, making it possible to make a return trip within a single day between the two cities.
"The Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway is a national pride," said He Huawu, chief engineer of the Ministry of Railways, who briefed nearly 300 foreign and Chinese reporters Monday in Beijing before they were invited by the country's bullet train builders to experience a "flight" in a test run of the modern link.
Despite the fast speed, the environment inside the train is quiet with only scant background sound, and the train maintains a stable run. Glasses of water on the seat-back tables are almost motionless.
Electricity outlets behind seats are provided on the CRH380 EMUs. Passengers can use their laptops or other digital devices without worrying that the batteries will run out. The space between the seats is wide enough for comfort. Headphones are even provided for passengers on first-class seats to watch TV programs or listen to other channels.
While responding to media questions concerning the safety of traveling on the high-speed line, He said that he is fully confident in the safety of the travel link and that the passengers' safety is guaranteed.
Since May 11, more than 1,500 testing trains on a total journey of 2,000,000 kilometers had been carried out on the whole line by following the actual train schedule. Tests included train schedule parameter tests, failure simulation and emergency exercises, according to a brochure provided by the Ministry of Railways.
On May 25 and 26, 30 top engineers and experts conducted an examination and assessment to the line. Results show that the rail track, the communications, signaling, traction and power supply systems are reliable, according to the brochure.
Zhao Guotang, chief engineer of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway Co Ltd, said that security checks will cover all passengers who board the trains; all the sections between stations are well-fenced, with 2.85 meter-high fence nets installed along sections with low subgrade where it is easy to get access to the track; a video monitoring system is installed along the whole line for real-time surveillance.
Zhao said examination and maintenance will be carried out for at least four hours on fixed facilities every night when trains are not running. Two testing trains without passengers will also be set out from both directions every morning before it goes into regular operation to confirm that the line is safe.
The link will have greater capacity to deal with extreme disasters such as freezing rain due to its advanced monitoring systems and installed snow-melting agents, said Zhao.
In early 2008, unprecedented heavy snow and freezing rain inundated southern China, bringing traffic to a standstill at peak season when millions of Chinese were on their way home to celebrate the Spring Festival.
Even though the line's designed maximum speed can reach up to 350 kph, the government has decided to lower the speed to 300 kph at the initial stage of operation. Another speed of 250 kph is also in mixed use on the same line.
Zhao said that the major reason is that the cost would be a lot higher if the trains were running at 350 kph instead of 300 kph.
He Huawu said the match of the 250 kph with 300 kph speeds can reach higher efficiency on the link. The varied speeds have also provided more options for consumers with different demands.
According to the ministry's previous announcement, tickets for trips on trains running at 300 kph will be priced at 555 yuan ($85) for second-class seats and 1,750 yuan for business class. Prices for journeys on 250-kph trains will range from 410 yuan for second-class seats to 650 yuan for first-class.
Zhao said if the public gains greater understanding and trust of high-speed trains after years of operation, the trains may run at their top speed.
Shen Wenjing, from the city of Jinan in Shandong Province, who works in Beijing, said she rarely went back to her hometown as her work is too busy.
"I don't have many vacations and the journey back home is too long," she said.
But with the imminent opening of the link on June 30, she said hometown becomes much nearer.
"It takes less than two hours to reach my hometown from Beijing. I can go back home after I finish work on Fridays in the future," she said.
China has a blueprint to build a safe and efficient transportation network during the five years ending 2015. This will include the construction of more high-speed rail tracks. The country's high-speed rails covered a total of 8,358 kilometers by 2010, and the mileage will expand to 45,000 kilometers by 2015, according to the government plans.
The Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway will also become one of the eight high-speed railway corridors crisscrossing the country by 2015.
The link has connected Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, and 11 other cities each with a population over one million in four provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu. These regions have more than one fourth the nation's total population.
He Huawu said in the long term, the line will be of great significance to the economic and social development for regions along it.
Cities have been eying the boost to tourism along the line that covers a total of nine world heritage sites, including the Great Wall and the Imperial Palace in Beijing and Mount Tai in Shandong.
Vice Minister of Railways Hu Yadong earlier said with the opening of the new link, the old Beijing-Shanghai Line can increase freight transport capacity by 50 million metric tons per year.
On June 20, seven cities, including Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Jinan jointly established a tourism alliance with a common vision to boost the industry.
Jia Yuanhua, a professor with the Beijing Jiaotong University, believes the line, apart from improving travel conditions for people, will also stimulate the deepened exchanges economically and culturally between different regions.
Zhao Guotang said one noteworthy impact from this modern line, will perhaps be felt on the changes it can bring to the patterns of thinking for the Chinese living in different regions so that the development gap between theses regions can be bridged.
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