February, 5, 2021
The Silk Road Journal - By Mahika Ming
The world's first locomotive prototype using high-temperature superconducting magnetic levitation technology (HTS Maglev) was unveiled in Chengdu city in Sichuan Province. This prototype has been developed and constructed as a joint venture of the Southwest Jiaotong University, China Railway Group and CRRC Corporation. It will be the birth of the world's fastest trains so far. These super trains are trains without wheels with zero friction on the track and can travel at speeds up to 620 kmph. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has the world’s longest high speed rail system spanning more than 120,000 kilometers by 2020 as per Chinese records. This achievement is a world first unfolding at time when the high speed transport is still on high demand to cater to the socio economic development needs taking place in the PRC. According to Chinese engineers the existing high speed trains can reach speeds up to 350 kmph. The world saw Japanese, German and French high speed trains operating within those countries and China’s Silk Road is now connecting Japan and Europe via rail with new technology developed by Chinese engineers ushering in a new era in ground transportation. Japanese auto makers entering into agreements with the Chinese Rail authorities to transport automobiles produced in Japan to Europe via Rail proves that Chinese trains are vital for global economic development. Chinese scientists have been testing the HTS Maglev technology for over twenty years and by now the PRC is the lead player focusing on the next generation high speed transportation systems. Japan and Germany also focused on Maglev technology but research has proved that only the Chinese technology could reach speeds up to 620 kmph.
Japanese engineers managed to reach 602 kmph with Maglev technology but the trains were not practical as they needed extremely low temperatures such as 250 degrees Celsius below zero to operate. Chinese Engineers have managed to reduce this need to practical levels. The PRC has so far invested more than 9.3 million USD for this research. The cost of building tracks for Maglev technology is estimated high but the maintenance cost will be extremely low according to engineers. The British left us the rail network. We destroyed the northern line during the war and reconstructed it with Indian assistance. When that was done some questioned whether it will help reconciliation. Political analysts say that the British did not extend the tracks to connect the Uva province with the rest of the country since we revolted in that region against the British. Then we extended the Matara line till Hambantota with Chinese support. After the war ended the Japanese wanted to help build a Mono rail in the Colombo district. It also got delayed. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheels. We must learn from friends like the PRC and take the country forward at least on wheels for the moment as we don’t have the means to have Maglev.
The writer is an analyst with interests in the financial and sustainable development sectors with postgraduate exposure in the Far East (firstname.lastname@example.org).