China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation has unveiled a new maglev train that could cover the distance between Shanghai and Beijing in less than three hours, thanks to a top speed of 600kph. Maglev trains can reach higher speeds because, thanks to magnetic levitation, there’s no contact between the train body and the track itself. The concept isn’t new, but maglev trains have historically been hard and expensive to build, despite lower ongoing maintenance costs than regular bullet trains. Chinese engineers were able to develop a viable solution by using superconductive levitators that don’t need extremely low temperatures to maintain their electromagnetic properties.
While the train is already the fastest commercial ground vehicle on Earth, at least on paper, China is still hard at work on a network of compatible maglev tracks. Several new high-speed magnetic railways are currently under construction, including a direct link between Shanghai and Hangzhou and another route connecting Chengdu and Chongqing. A previous generation maglev train with a top speed of 430kph is already in use in Shanghai, covering the 30km journey between the city’s Pudong Airport and the Longyang Road station in around seven minutes.