Test high speed train made of plastic reinforced with carbon fiber can hit 500 km/h

China Daily – China’s largest train maker, CSR Corp Ltd, launched over the weekend its first test train that can reach speeds of up to 500 km an hour.

The six-carriage train with a tapered head is the newest member of the CRH series. It has a maximum drawing power of 22,800 kilowatts, compared with 9,600 kilowatts for the CRH380 trains now in service on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, which hold the world speed record of 300 km per hour.

Ding Sansan, the company’s chief technician, said the concept of the super-speed train design was inspired by the ancient Chinese sword. The bodywork uses plastic material reinforced with carbon fiber.

The Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Science and Technology approved the overall plan of the high-speed test train in January after it was reviewed by a team organized by the two ministries.

The record China wants to break is in the category ‘Top Speed, Conventional Wheeled’. The current record stands at 487.3 km/h (302.8 mi) and was set by China’s CRH380 with a 16-car trainset in January this year on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway. The all-time high-speed record by a conventional wheeled train was set by a purpose-built French TGV in 2007. Top speed was 574.8 km/h (357.18 mi). This TGV was a one-off test vehicle in the category ‘Special built trains for test only’. The test train is the CRH500.

China has built the world’s largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade, but a collision between two high-speed trains in July that killed at least 40 people led it to suspend new projects.

China’s bullet trains routinely travelled at around 300 kilometers an hour, but the government reduced speeds after the July accident, which involved trains made by CSR.

Initial reports suggested signalling problems were to blame for the crash, which sparked strong public criticism of China’s government, but the results of an official investigation have not yet been released.

Separately, a new high-speed railway linking the capital of the southern province of Guangdong, Guangzhou, to Shenzhen city on the border with Hong Kong went into service Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

China plans to extend the route to Hong Kong by 2015 as part of the planned Beijing-Hong Kong high-speed line, it said.

The latest moves come despite China saying last week it will cut spending on its railways next year.

The railways ministry will invest 400 billion yuan ($63 billion) on rail infrastructure in 2012, down from an estimated 469 billion yuan this year and 700 billion yuan in 2010, state media said.

The plastic material reinforced with carbon fiber in train bodywork increased strength by 22.7 percent while also reducing weight.

The test train is based on revisions to the CRH 380A – regarding the shape of the front, body, engine and brake systems – intended to increase the speed, promote the engine power and decrease the drag force.

The streamlined shape of the test train’s front and the special design of its rear were expected to decrease drag.

Many high-tech materials, including carbon fiber, magnesium alloy and sound insulation materials, have been used in the train.

Shen Zhiyun, a locomotive expert and academician with both the Chinese academies of sciences and engineering, said the testing of the train will provide useful reference for current high-speed railway operations.

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