China Relaunches the World’s Fastest Train

Alexis Banks, Writer

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The great China fast train, more commonly known as the Bullet Train, is scheduled to start up again after having been temporarily out of commission when it crashed in 2011.

On July 23, 2011, a Chinese bullet train crashed into another high-speed train that was stopped after having been struck by lightning in eastern China. The train lost its power, slowed down, when the bullet train came up behind it at nearly 95 miles per hour, hitting the back of the rail cars, plunging them about 65-100 feet from the elevated section of track. This event killed 32 people, according to The Blaze News, and injured 191 citizens. Passengers were trapped in the wreck for hours, creating a state of panic.

The crash of the high-speed trains led to a state investigation into the railway’s ministry which uncovered widespread corruption. Official plans called for China’s bullet train network to expand to 8,000 miles of track in 2011, and 10,000 miles by 2020. In addition, China plans to completely fix the power shortages so that this accident never happens again.

According to Nevada Public Radio, “Six years after a fatal crash caused China to throttle back its high-speed rail service, the country is re-launching the world’s fastest inter-city lines, including one between Beijing and Shanghai that cuts an hour off the current travel time.”

China’s fleet of high-speed trains is in the race to become the world’s fastest. By next week, a few of the trains will once again be allowed to run at a higher speed of about 200 miles per hour. The South China Morning Post quotes a government-controlled website as saying that the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei line will resume operations immediately, while the heavily used 820-mile-long Beijing to Shanghai line will start with the new trains and faster speeds on September 21.  Seven of China’s bullet trains will be permitted to travel at the increased maximum speed, and all trains have been fitted with an improved monitoring system that will slow and stop the trains automatically in the event of an emergency.

The earliest example of higher-speed commercial train service in China was the Asia Express, a luxury passenger train that operated in Japanese-controlled Manchuria from 1934 to 1943. High-speed rail service in China was introduced on April 18, 2007 and ran for three years until the crash of 2011. Now, the Chinese railway network has become the longest in the world, accounting for about two-thirds of the world’s high-speed rail tracks in 2016.

Problems with China’s high-speed trains include major safety issues, corruption, and high cost. In fact, the repairs and building of the high speed rails come at a heavy price. According to the Associated Press, “China has spent an estimated $360 billion on high-speed rail, building by far the largest network in the world.”

But, the cost to build isn’t the only expensive component people will be worrying about. The new cost to get a ticket for China’s Fast Train is much more expensive , and for now, the train will have few passengers, if any, because few can afford the cost of a ticket.

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