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

(CNN) – China has unveiled a prototype for a new high-speed Maglev train that is capable of speeds of 620 kilometers (385 miles) per hour.

The train runs on high-temperature superconducting (HTS) power that makes it appear as if the train is floating along magnetized tracks.

The sleek 21-meter-long (69-foot) prototype was unveiled to the media in Chengdu city, Sichuan province, on January 13. In addition, university researchers built 165 meters (541 feet) of track to demonstrate what the train would look like. and feel in transit, according to Xinhua News.

Professor He Chuan (Vice President of Southwest Jiaotong University, who worked on the prototype) told reporters that the train could be “operational” within 3-10 years.

He added: “Sichuan has rich rare earth resources, which is very beneficial to 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 USA

China is home to the world’s largest high-speed rail network, stretching over 37,000 kilometers, and the fastest commercially operating train: the Shanghai maglev.

The country’s first high-speed Maglev train began operating in 2003. At a maximum speed of 431 km/h, the train connects Shanghai Pudong Airport and Longyang Highway on the east side of Shanghai.

China is eager to make further infrastructure improvements ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

This time last year, China unveiled a new 174-kilometer high-speed rail line connecting Beijing with the 2022 Winter Olympics host city of Zhangjiakou, cutting travel time between the two from three hours to 47 minutes.

Earlier this month, the country debuted a bullet train specifically designed to withstand freezing temperatures. The CR400AF-G train can travel up to 350 kilometers per hour in climates as cold as -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit).
It will run routes between Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin, the latter of which is so cold that it hosts an annual snow and ice festival.

CNN’s Shanshan Wang contributed reporting.

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