New train bears down on cold challenge
Updated: 2012-12-02 07:53
By Zhao Lei in Harbin, Heilongjiang (China Daily)
With temperatures below freezing and snow falling the length of the route, China's first high-speed rail line that runs a long distance through regions with extremely low temperatures started service on Saturday.
The 921-kilometer line links Harbin, capital of China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang, and the port city of Dalian in Liaoning province. The high-tech train, designed to withstand temperatures ranging from minus 40 up to 40 C, marks a new milestone in the country's effort to build the largest high-speed railway network in the world.
Passengers imitate the hand signals of flight deck crew of aircraft carrier beside a high-speed train at the Harbin West Railway Station in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Dec 1, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]
"I am very excited and proud because I've made contributions to the new line's construction," said Shen Yong, an engineer with the China Railway Tenth Group Co Ltd.
To minimize the frigid environment's impacts on the railway hardware, the ministry has been operating trial runs for the past two months.
One of the major challenges: If the train departs from Dalian and heads for Harbin, the temperature can drop enroute as much as 15 degrees, said Luo Chuanbao, a publicity official of the Ministry of Railways.
The CRH380B high-speed trains on the line are designed to withstand such shifts, said Kong Feng, a senior engineer with the CNR Changchun Railway Vehicles, manufacturer of the cold-proof trains.
The service will cut travel time between the two cities from nine hours to about four.
The bullet trains can run at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour, but for the frosty initial stage, they will travel with caution at slower speeds, according to the Ministry of Railways.
The speed between Dec 1 and March 31 will be 200 km per hour, and for the rest of the year it will be 300 km per hour. The ticket prices will vary based on the speeds.
Lu Hongguang, a white-collar worker in Harbin, said: "I am quite impressed after seeing how modernized and advanced the line and the train are."
With the Harbin-Dalian railway, the regions' cargo capabilities are hugely increased, the Ministry of Railways said.
Construction for the Harbin-Dalian line began in August 2007 with a total investment of 92.3 billion yuan ($14.8 billion). It is part of the planned Beijing-Harbin high-speed railway.
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