A train that can travel up to 620 kph has debuted in southern China as part of ongoing plans to upgrade and expand the country’s transportation network.
China National Railways Company said Tuesday that the test train, called the Beijing to Guangzhou line (下丁兴辞), was tested on a test track in the Guangdong province and displayed by the government. It began service Monday.
The prototype “has precision-machined, high-specification steel with high resistance that has been scientifically refined,” wrote the China News Service. “It’s capable of operating at high capacity and high speed.”
The train does not have a network operator, but it can be split into three networks of separate trains that can travel between the cities at different speeds.
The prototype is expected to eventually be deployed as part of a massive three-way infrastructure project between China, India and Russia that is expected to include a railway line running from Moscow to Mumbai.
The Los Angeles Times said China’s rail development is mostly an engineering and logistical accomplishment that, at times, even surpasses the U.S. But its ability to utilize idle railway lines in the agricultural heartland of western China has left some Western diplomats uneasy.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies said last year that he believed many unused rail lines in China were housing missile factories, factories for manufacturing nuclear weapons and military bases.
Chinese Railway Ministry spokesman Xu Ruimin said at the time that there was no evidence that the areas were used as military facilities, but analysts said the question remained a matter of debate.
Xu said the prototype train cost 150 million yuan ($23 million) to build and reached the maximum theoretical top speed of 620 kph (370 mph) in its first test run on a trial track.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.