China’s High Speed Network Could See New 350 km/h Additions
At present, the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity is the nation’s sole “all-350 km/h (217 mph)” High Speed line (with the exception of maybe a few CRH Harmony Express using the route to northeastern China). CR Revival Express trains on the Beijing-Shanghai HSR also clock in amazing speeds at 350 km/h (217 mph), shortening the journey from Beijing to Shanghai to 4 hours 28 minutes.
China’s WeChat rail communities are now abuzz with plans that the national rail operator could be looking at expanding such amazingly high speeds to the southern part of the Beijing-Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong HSR. It is likely that the southern half could be running at 350 km/h by National Day (01 October) 2019. Most likely is a speedbump from Yueyang (岳阳) to Shenzhen, which is the bit of the High Speed route managed by China Railway Guangzhou. Due to different construction standards in the Hong Kong bit, it is probably unlikely that trains will pull into West Kowloon having “just” completed 350 km/h, as the Hong Kong section is built “only” for speeds of 200 km/h (125 mph).
It’s important to note that this part of the Beijing-Guangzhou HSR has indeed run speeds up to 350 km/h before — most notably between Wuhan and Guangzhou South. However, 350 km/h trains between Guangzhou South (广州南) and Shenzhen stations might very well be a first.
The railways are also not ignoring “slower” High Speed lines, with the Guangdong part of the Nanning-Guangzhou and Southeastern Coastal High Speed routes expected to reach speeds of 250 km/h (157 mph), 50 km/h faster than present-day speeds. Also, faster speeds are likely in the Guangxi parts of some routes, including the Nanning-Guangzhou and Nanning-Kunming routes, amongst others. Finally, for the first time ever, 250 km/h trains will run between Shijiazhuang (石家庄) and Taiyuan (太原) starting from 01 July 2019. (Right now, trains “crawl” along at a mere 196-200 km/h.)
China’s recent round of speedbumps began on 05 January 2017, when the Hainan East Ring Railway started 250 km/h operations. They represent a marked departure from the conservative, “go-slow” days of Sheng Guangzu, the former head of the Chinese railway bodies.