China will start research in building a 350-kilometer-per-hour train for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway that has been under discussion for years, said the country's science ministry and the railway ministry.
The Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Railway signed an agreement on Tuesday night to collaborate in developing an upgraded version of the present China Railway High-speed (CRH) trains.
The latest model of CRH series with a speed of 300 kilometers per hour, rolled off the production line only last December. It will first serve on the Beijing-Tianjin railway in August this year, in time for the Beijing Olympics.
The two ministries did not specify a timetable for the development of the upgraded bullet train, but said they intended the new CRH train to provide service on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway which would kick off construction "very soon", according to the railway minister Liu Zhijun, present at the signing ceremony.
The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, expected to extend 1,318 kilometers long, has been under discussion for more than 10 years.
With an estimated investment of 160 billion yuan (21 billion U.S. dollars), the railway upon its completion would become the largest as well as the most expensive engineering project in the country.
It would cut travel time between the Chinese capital and the country's leading financial hub from around 10 hours at present to about five hours, doubling the existing transport capacity to carry 160 million passengers annually.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)