CRH @ 10 is a year-long (2016-2017) series focusing on China’s HSR developments as it celebrates 10 years of CRH express train services in 2017.
China now has the world’s largest high speed railway network, with two thirds of the world’s HSR tracks firmly in Chinese territory. But it all really got started nine years ago today (18 April 2007), when 262 CRH train services kicked off China’s entry into the HSR world.
Starting already back then with a basic network of 6,003 km (3,751 mi), the Chinese HSR network first started with this network being capable to operate at speeds between 200 km/h (125 mph) and 250 km/h (157 mph). In the meantime, the HSR network now sees speeds that easily reach 300 km/h (186 mph), with “test portions” of the Beijing-Shanghai HSR built for speeds up to 380 km/h (237 mph). The national high speed network, in the meantime, has now expanded to over three times the original network, and this was after “merely-upgraded” track ended up removed from the tally.
The then-new trains, known as China Railway High-Speed (CRH) services, were mostly seen as an extension and addition to the regular rail network. In fact, the present-day 4×4 HSR network, soon to expand to an 8×8 network, is mostly on its very own tracks. This has the double advantage of keeping regular rail lines open for slower passenger trains and for cargo, at the same time as bringing passengers from A to B faster on the newer national lines.
Originally featuring non-Chinese technology and even a few imported trainsets, the CRH trains today have now grown to be much more Chinese. The ubiquitous hot water boiler, seen in many regular rail trains in China, is standard on all CRH trains, and Business Class basically debuted as a sort of world first on the Beijing-Shanghai HSR. The trains are also known as Harmony Express (和谐号), a “hat-tip”, if you will, of sorts, to China’s then-President Hu Jintao, who strived for harmony between mankind and nature in his official policies.
The current fleet of CRH trains have been much improved from the originals, and an entirely new fleet of Chinese HSR trains are now being tested and will hopefully soon open their doors to the ridership. These newer trains feature even more legroom across all classes of travel, wifi onboard, and on some trains, a smarter seating management system. The newer trains will be certified for speeds up to 350 km/h (218 mph), a speed that could see Beijing-Shanghai completed in as few as 4 hours’ time (today’s speeds require an extra hour).
China’s HSR network is easily the most exciting story in urbanisation and infrastructure anywhere on the planet. At Tracking China, this new, year-long series, CRH at 10, aims to bring readers entirely independent, in-depth, and novel news and information, continuously updated as the network, too, continues to expand, across China and into newer still territories.
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