From 50 to 350 km/h
Starting out from Beijing's most visible rail hub for Classic and High Speed rail, Beijing West, David takes a quick look at how trains ran faster and gives you a brief overview of the many speed-up campaigns that eventually made the world's fastest train.
Hello, I'm David Feng, making my rail move here at the Beijing West Railway Station — not the newest one in town, but one of the better ones to get a look at both Classic Rail trains and the sleeker High Speed variants. So we're now taking a look at China going from 80 km/h (or a bit like that) to something that's even faster — 350 km/h... The rail move from Classic to High Speed.
In the early 1990s, the average speed of a train was less than 50 km/h. The increasingly affordable airliners gave it a real run for the money. For a decade from 1997 to 2007, six rounds of speed-up campaigns made trains faster by leaps and bounds, with maximum speeds in 2007 at 250 km/h. Most people view the Beijing-Tianjin intercity railway as the first real High Speed route, but that honour in fact goes to a less remarkable route these days — the Qinhuangdao-Shenyang line, now part of the Beijing-Harbin Railway.
350 km/h operations began in earnest in 2008. Speeds were decreased after the fatal Wenzhou rail crash. However, maximum speeds still remained competitive at 300 km/h whilst the entire network was being expanded. By 2017, the railways were ready to resume 350 km/h on a few lines, including select trains to and from Shanghai, and in 2018, the entire Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway, with the country's new standard HSR trainset, the Revival Express, the star at such high speeds.
This is Beijing West, on Platform 18 — the High Speed end of the station. Behind me you see, of course, the white train, the Harmony Express, which has been on the rails for nearly a decade, and now the newer version, that's of course, the Revival Express, coming in — of course — red, or in gold. Taking a look at Chinese railways is really a quick "history book" into how the country has developed, from the past through to the present day. And that's a look at the rail move here at Beijing West — and in this veritable hub of both Classic and High Speed. I'll see you at the next station.