Maglev train: China presents prototype that can reach speeds of 620 kilometers per hour

(CNN) — China has unveiled a prototype for a new high-speed maglev train that can reach speeds of 620 kilometers per hour.

The train is powered by high-temperature superconducting energy (HTS), which makes it appear as if the train is levitating on the magnetized tracks.

The sleek, 21-meter-long prototype was unveiled to media on Jan. 13 in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province. Additionally, university researchers built 165 meters (541 feet) of rails to demonstrate how the train would look and feel in transit, according to state-run Xinhua News.

Professor He Chuan (vice president of Southwest Jiaotong University, which worked on the prototype) told reporters that the train could be “operational” within 3 to 10 years.

He added, “Sichuan has rich rare earth resources, which is very beneficial for our construction of permanent magnet tracks, thus promoting the faster development of experiments.”

A possible interior for the new maglev train.

A possible interior for the new maglev train.

Liu Kun/Xinhua/Sipa U.S

China has the world’s largest high-speed rail network, stretching 37,000 kilometers, and the fastest commercially operated train – the Shanghai Maglev Train.

The country’s first maglev high-speed train began operating in 2003. With a maximum speed of 431 km/h, the train connects Shanghai Pudong Airport and Longyang Road in eastern Shanghai.

China is keen to make more infrastructure improvements ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing.

Around this time last year, China unveiled a new 174-kilometer high-speed railway linking Beijing with the 2022 Winter Olympics host city, Zhangjiakou, cutting the travel time between the two from three hours to 47 minutes.

Earlier this month, the country unveiled a high-speed train designed specifically for freezing temperatures. The CR400AF-G train can travel up to 350 kilometers per hour in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit).
It will operate routes between Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin – the latter being so cold it hosts an annual snow and ice festival.

CNN’s Shanshan Wang contributed to the coverage.

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