China has introduced its first ‘smart’ high-speed trains to connect Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the two host cities of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The carriages are equipped with an automated driving system, 5G signals, intelligent lighting as well as wireless charging docks, and can travel at a top speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) per hour.
The £6billion project is the first ‘smart’ high-speed railway in the world, a Chinese expert has claimed.
Self-driving high-speed train Fuxing G8811 arrives at Taizicheng Railway Station in Chongli District of Zhangjiakou, north China’s Hebei Province, on Monday after departing from Beijing
The carriages have 5G signals and intelligent lighting, making a comfortable journey possible
Passengers can put their smartphones in wireless charging docks to charge during the trip
Covering 174 kilometres (108 miles) with 10 stops, the Jing-Zhang High-speed Railway officially entered service yesterday after four years of construction.
Self-driving Fuxing bullet trains, whose name means ‘rejuvenation’, currently operate on the rail line, which is a vital part of China’s expanding high-speed transport network, according to China State Railway Group.
The trains are guided by the nation’s domestically developed global satellite navigation system Beidou. The £7billion ($9billion) project will be complete next year and has been designed to rival and eventually replace the US-developed Global Positioning System (GPS).
‘The Jing-Zhang High-speed Railway has realised the missions of “smart” construction, “smart” equipment and “smart” operation, and made the history of the global “smart” railway,’ Li Hongxia, a senior engineer at China Railway Engineering Design and Consulting Group, told Technology Daily.
Li regarded the completion of the line a milestone in the country’s rail history.
It cost 58.4 billion yuan (£6billion) to build, according to a national plan, and cuts the travel time from Beijing to Zhangjiakou in neighbouring Hebei Province from three hours and seven minutes to 47 minutes.
The Jing-Zhang High-speed Railway has entered service after four years of construction
The first passengers to enjoy the high-tech trip include Yang Yang (second from the left sitting), the first Chinese winter Olympics champion who won two gold medals in 2002
The £6billion railway project is set to facilitate the transport of the 2022 Winter Olympics
Although the trains are programmed to operate on their own, there will be a driver on board to monitor the automated operation and handle emergency.
The trains will even be maintained and repaired by robots.
According to Di Kemeng, a project engineer from the China Railway Seventh Group, his company has replaced workers with machines to carry out fixes under the carriages and on the railway tracks.
The first ‘smart’ bullet train departed from Beijing North Railway Station at around 8:30am.
Among the excited passengers was Yang Yang, the first Chinese winter Olympics champion who won two gold medals in short-track speed skating in 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The line cuts the travel time between Beijing and Zhangjiakou from three hours to 47 minutes
Athletes and spectators to the sports event in two years will benefit from the railway. Pictured, officials and volunteers attend the launch ceremony of the global volunteers recruitment programme for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on December 5
Yang, 43, told Xinhua News Agency that Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Railway was important to the preparation of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
‘It can improve the efficiency of our work, promote China’s winter sports, and boost the ice and snow economy,’ said the retired athlete who is now chairwoman of the Athletes’ Commission of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
According to previous reports, passengers will be able to store their snowboards in dedicated spaces and watch games live on the high-tech ‘2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Express’.
All stations along the railway line will have also various AI-powered robots to serve passengers. Their tasks will include transporting luggage and giving directions.
China has the world’s largest railway system, which measures 139,000 kilometres (86,370 miles), enough to wrap the Earth three times by the equator.
Its fast-growing high-speed rail network, also the world’s largest, covers 35,000 kilometres (21,747 miles) as of 2019.
China has more than two-thirds of the world’s high-speed railways
Passengers board a ‘Fuxing’ high speed bullet train on Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway line before it leaves the Cangnan railway station on November 20, 2017
China has the world’s largest high-speed railway network, which measures a staggering 35,000 kilometres (21,747 miles) as of 2019, according to China Central Television Station.
The distance is more than two-thirds of the world’s total.
The country’s total railway coverage is 139,000 kilometres (86,370 miles), enough to wrap the Earth three times by the equator.
China is investing heavily on the construction of its rail system.
It plans to spend no less than 2.8 trillion yuan (£307 billion) building no less than 23,000 kilometres (14,291 miles) of new railways between 2016 and 2020, according to a government plan.
Xinhua News Agency reported that Beijing completed its largest ever investment in railway construction between 2013 and 2017.
Nearly 30,000 kilometres (18,641 miles) of tracks, more than half of which are high-speed rail, were complete at a total cost of 3.9 trillion yuan (£428 billion).
The country’s newest high-speed train model is ‘Fuxing’, or ‘Rejuvenation’, which runs at a speed of 350 kilometres (217 miles) an hour.
The model prior to ‘Fuxing’ is called ‘Hexie’, meaning harmony.