By Lu Ya’nan, Ding Yiting
China’s high speed rail lines topped 37,900 kilometers at the end of 2020, nearly doubling the figure five years ago and making China a country that owns the longest tracks for bullet trains.
As the first railway designed and built by China, the railway line connecting Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the co-host city of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Hebei province, is a witness to the development of Chinese rail as well as leaps in China’s comprehensive strength.
When the line was firstly constructed in 1909, it had a design speed of just 35 kph. More than 100 years later, bullet trains are running 350 kph on the line, representing the most advanced level in the world.
“It takes at least three to four hours to drive from Beijing to Chongli, while the bullet trains can take me here in about an hour,” said Li Bo, a skiing enthusiast, while hitting a ski resort in Chongli, a district of Zhangjiakou. “The high speed railway saves me a lot of time, so I can always come here,” Li said.
The Fuxing bullet trains currently have the highest performance among Chinese high speed trains, and 84 percent of the major standards are Chinese.
“We pursued perfection in every detail, and in particular, we made 90 assembling plans for the bogie and verified over a thousand of times,” said Guo Rui, chief machinist of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd., the manufacturer of Fuxing bullet trains.
According to He Huawu, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China was the first country in the world to explore the parametric variation of key technologies for 400 kph and above high speed railway systems. China has achieved independent, standardized and serial development of high speed train technologies, which tremendously enhanced the core competitiveness of China’s high speed trains, He noted.
The Beijing-Zhangjiakou high speed railway, navigated by China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System with automatic pilot, is the first smart high speed rail line in China. Besides, mobile internet technologies are also making railway operation safer and more intelligent. For instance, passengers can choose where they want to sit on the train on mobile applications, and check in at railway stations with facial recognition. In addition, they can also get food delivered to their seats and have their tickets refunded by just clicks on their phones.
“The convenient transport is bringing more and more visitors,” said the owner of a garden in Wan’an county, Ji’an, east China’s Jiangxi province which helps increase income for 60 local impoverished households. Rural tourism in Wan’an county embraced new opportunities after a high speed rail line was opened between Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi and Ganzhou in the southern part of the province. The county received 12,000 visits per day on average during last year’s National Day holiday. Local specialties such as honey pomeloes, dried tofu skin and silkies are also transported to other places in a faster manner, revitalizing local economy.
High speed railways are making development more balanced. The opening of Chengdu-Guiyang high speed railway for the first time sent bullet trains to Yibin in southern Sichuan, Zhaotong in northern Yunnan and Bijie in western Guizhou, and the Baoji-Lanzhou high speed railway comprehensively incorporated the northwest region into China’s national high-speed railway network. As of the end of 2019, the country’s high-speed railway network has covered 86 percent of the cities with a population of over 500,000.