China’s Harmony Express Now World’s Fastest Train
The train named Harmony Express has a top speed of 350 km/hr (217 mph) breaking the previous record held by TGV of France which runs at 320 km/hr (198 mph). The famous Shinkansen of Japan now ranks third with top speed of 300 km/hr (186 mph).
Harmony Express runs from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong. Before Harmony was in use, a regular train would take 11 hours to travel the 1,069 kilometer distance. Now, the travel takes up just a mere 3 hours – equivalent to an airplane flight time from Detroit to Houston.
Construction of the express train began in 2005. It was the start of a massive development plan of increasing the national network from 86,000 kilometers to 120,000 kilometers, the largest outside the United States. The Chinese are gearing up the railways instead of the highways as the one billion population would spare only little spaces for development (unlike in the United States). Their first high-speed train ran during the time Beijing was hosting the Olympics in 2008. It connected the city with nearby port city Tianjin.
A total of 17 billion dollars (12 billion euros) were spent for the Harmony Express. Ticket prices range from 780 RMB ($115, 80 euros) for first class and 490 RMB for second class. Chinese airlines have reduced flight tickets to answer the train’s competitive values.