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January 31, 2011

Progress to 1200 kilometer per hour Vacuum Maglev Trains and increasing the average speed of high speed trains to 500 kph

Research conducted by the .Traction Power State Key Laboratory at the Southwest Jiaotong University, successfully developed a vacuum magnetic suspension train model able to run at between 600 (372.8 mph) and 1,200 (745.6 mph) kilometers per hour, equal to the speed of a plane, according to Shuai Bin, vice dean of the university's Traffic School.

The new technology is expected to be put into operation within 10 years and promoted across the country in 2030, the Shanghai-based Science Pictorial reported Sunday. Shuai told the Global Times Sunday that the possibility of the technology being put to use is small.

China began research and development on a new "super-speed" railway technology in 2010 The new technology will increase the average speed of trains to over 500 kilometers per hour (310.7mph), said MOR Chief Engineer He Huawu at conference held in central China's Wuhan City. Most new high speed trains in China have commercial speeds of 380 kph or less (typically just over 200 kph). The 400-500 km/h (248.5-310.7 mph) high-speed railway technology is in its final phase of development and the 380-km/h (236.1 mph) trains are already coming off production lines. China's high-speed railways with speeds above 300 km/h (186.4 mph) will account for 75 percent of those built in the 12th Five-Year period from 2011 to 2015. By 2020, China's railway network will be ready to serve over 90 percent of its population.

Part of the difficulty for the very low pressure maglev trains is that maglevs are only about 5% of the high speed trains in China. The non-maglev high speed trains have an established position and it is difficult to displace them.





The technology would use just one-tenth of the fuel that a plane does, and emit almost zero noise.

"All those advantages are just bubbles before a new transport system of vacuum tubes is built across the country, and the cost would be astronomical," Shuai said, adding that the cost for one kilometer of vacuum tube would be several times higher than that of a subway, which costs over 200 million yuan ($30 million).

A more advanced experimental model of the maglev will be introduced in the next two or three years, and could be ready for operation in ten years.

FURTHER READING
An 86 page presentation from 2006 by MOR Chief Engineer He Huawu on railway tunneling technology in China.

Previous coverage of China's high speed vacuum trains.

Very low pressure high speed train costs

Very low pressure trains would add 10-20% to the cost of maglev trains in China but would double the speed.

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