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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 17:08, January 29, 2007
Feature: China's high-speed locomotive's first day
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At 7:15 a.m., January 28, a locally made high-speed train pulled out of Hangzhou Station heading for Shanghai South Station. On its head are the letters "CRH", an abbreviation of "China Railway High-speed", a common name for locomotives traveling at or above 200 kilometers per hour. This is the first train of its kind to be put into operation during the peak Spring Festival period, heralding the beginning of the high-speed era of China's railway transport.

The train will run at a maximum speed of approximately 160 kilometers per hour during the Spring Festival, and after April 18, the date set for the sixth national railway speed increase, between 200 and 250 kilometers per hour.

An aircraft-like interior

Our reporter arrived at Shanghai South Station an hour before departure to have a look at the new train. Unlike ordinary passenger trains, footboards on the CRH are at ground level, making it very convenient for passengers to climb up and down. Upon entering the carriage, many passengers exclaimed: "this is just like a plane!"

There are first-class and second-class soft seats on the CRH. There are 52 first-class soft seats in a carriage with four to a row. In second-class, there are 104 seats in a carriage with five to a row. The carriage appears much more spacious than ordinary trains and seats are comfortable. Like in an airplane, each person has a gray tray in front of them that can be pulled down to serve as a small table.

Each seat can be maneuvered 180 degrees so that passengers can turn around to chat with their friends face-to-face. Walking around the carriage, the reporter found advanced facilities: drinking-water machines at the front of every even-numbered carriage; racks above seats for small pieces of luggage and lockers where the carriages connect for larger pieces of luggage; and two bars.

Most passengers felt none of the jerk and boom that accompanies the sudden motion of ordinary trains, and realized the train was moving only when they saw people on the platform waving goodbye.

How do these trains reach such a high speed?

Unlike traditional trains that are driven by a locomotive at the front, each CRH carriage is self-driven, which gives it a tremendous advantage both when it begins to move and when it accelerates, and makes it more stable and comfortable during travel.

The CRH uses world-class technology. More than 75 percent of its parts are locally made. It is a prime example of how existing lines can be utilized by trains capable of traveling at over 200 kilometers per hour.

Based on imported technology, China is researching 16-carriage sleeper trains that can travel at speeds between 300 and 350 kilometers per hour. These carriages are expected to roll off the production line at the end of this year end or during the first half of next year.

Unique designs for special needs groups and emergencies

The reporter came across a gate twice the size that of the others in the seventh carriage, which has been designed to accommodate the disabled.

The glass windows at the front of every carriage are also special: they appear colorful in the sunshine. Staff said they can be broken if an urgent exit must be made. Made of special material, the glass won't shatter into sharp pieces if broken.

Each carriage has three restrooms including one for those traveling with infants where one can fold down nappy-changing table from the wall. The toilets have a cover that adjusts automatically to temperature so that it's not too cold to sit on them in winter.

On the opposite of the toilets is a multi-functional room prepared for patients with a folded bed and a drip stand. This room can fit both a patient and an attendant.

By People's Daily Online

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