Maglev Train: China launches a prototype that can reach speeds of 620 kilometers per hour

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

The train is powered by high temperature superconductivity which makes it appear as if the train is swimming along magnetic tracks.

The elegant 21-meter (69-foot) prototype was unveiled to the media in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on January 13. In addition, university researchers built 165 meters (541 feet) of track to show what the train would look like. And it feels transitory, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

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

“Sichuan has rich rare earth resources, which is very useful for building permanent magnetic paths, thus promoting the faster development of experiments,” he added.

Possible interior design for the new Maglev train.

Liu Kun / Xinhua / Ciba, United States of America

China is home to the world’s largest high-speed rail network, spanning more than 37,000 km, and the fastest commercially operated train – Shanghai maglev.

The country’s first high-speed Maglev train, began operating in 2003. Running at a top speed of 431 kilometers per hour, the train connects Shanghai Pudong Airport and Longyang Road in the east side of Shanghai.

China has been eager to make further infrastructure improvements ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing.

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

Earlier this month, the country launched an express train specifically designed to withstand low temperatures. The CR400AF-G can travel up to 350 kilometers per hour in cold weather such as -40°C (-40°F).
It will straddle routes between Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin – the latter so cold that it hosts an annual snow and ice festival.

CNN’s Shanshan Wang contributed to this report.

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