Working with both domestic and international partners, China is currently building 10,000 kilometres of high-speed railways across its vast terrain, and has another 4,600 kilometres of rail in the planning stages. Those numbers make it the world leader in high-speed rail infrastructure. Other countries with extensive high-speed rail networks include Japan, France, Spain, Germany and Italy.
So who builds the trains that travel at these high speeds? (Note: the International Union of Railways defines high-speed rail as trains travelling at more than 250 kilometres per hour for new systems, and more than 200 kilometres per hour for upgraded systems.) They include:
Alstom’s fourth-generation Pendolino (pictured at top) is a high-speed tilting train operating commercial service in Switzerland, among other locations. The Pendolino, which tilts to enable faster speeds on curves designed for slower trains, also operates in China, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and the UK.
Siemens describes its Velaro (pictured at right) as “the fastest series production trainset in the world, having reached a speed of 250 mph without modifications.” Among the routes it travels is the Madrid-to-Barcelona line, a 388-mile trek it can complete in under 2 1/2 hours. The Velaro features a system that feeds surplus braking energy back into the electricity grid for enhanced energy efficiency. Siemens calculates the train provides the mileage equivalent of 720 miles per gallon per person. The newest Velaros are scheduled to be delivered to the German Railway in late 2011. The trains also operate in Belgium, China, France, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.
Working in a joint venture with China’s Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock, Canada-based Bombardier has developed the CRH1 (shown at left) for deployment in China. Running at speeds of around 220 kilometres per hour, the CRH1 now has over 35 trains in service across China, with more on the way.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries is the company behind the Series 300 train (at right) and other models used for the Tokaido Shinkansen, the busiest high-speed railway in the world. First built in 1997, the Series 300 achieves a maximum operating speed of 270 kilometres per hour on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, and 285 kilometres per hour on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. The train’s nose is built with a shape specially designed to suppress micro-pressure waves.
Japan’s Nippon Sharyo manufactures a number of so-called bullet trains, including the Series 683Express E.M.U. (pictured below). The super express, inter-city train runs on routes connecting the Kansai, Chubu and Hokuriku regions of Japan.