Chinese firm to develop superfast train network

WUHAN • Imagine boarding a train in Beijing and half an hour later you are at a meeting in Wuhan, some 1,100km away.

This may become a reality some day, as a Chinese company has announced a plan to develop a supersonic HyperFlight train network with speeds of up to 4,000kmh.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (Casic) announced the plan at the third China (International) Commercial Aerospace Forum last Wednesday.

HyperFlight speeds will be 10 times those of traditional high-speed trains, and five times those of passenger aircraft, sources with Casic said at the forum in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province.

The HyperFlight programme has three stages: first, a regional inter-city network with speeds of 1,000kmh; second, a national transport network of urban clusters with speeds of 2,000kmh; finally, an international network with speeds of 4,000kmh.

Apart from Casic, a few companies, including HTT and Hyperloop One in the United States claim to be developing rail transport systems with speeds of more than 1,000kmh.

The Casic plan is far more ambitious. It has teamed up with more than 20 Chinese and foreign institutions that already hold over 200 patents in HyperFlight-related technology.

  • 4,000 Projected speed in kmh of HyperFlight trains in an international network under a plan announced on Wednesday.

HyperFlight will reduce air resistance with a low vacuum environment and supersonic shape, and reduce friction via magnetic suspension.

In contrast to most other HyperFlight trains that require a minimum speed to lift them up, the Chinese version plans to use new technology to allow suspension at zero speed and without wheels. HyperFlight will shorten the transport time between cities, avoid weather influences and fossil fuel consumption, as well as allow easy access to urban subways. It represents the future of transport technology, according to the project's technical director Mao Kai.

HyperFlight would accelerate and decelerate at rates that humans can easily withstand.

"It is the same as taking a plane. We may feel a little uncomfortable when the plane is speeding up, but not during the flight. How our body reacts depends on acceleration, not the speed itself," said the technical director.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline Chinese firm to develop superfast train network. Subscribe