China's new 500 km/h high-speed train   (Source: China Daily)
It launched over the weekend and was created to resemble an ancient Chinese sword

Despite experiencing a number of issues earlier this year, China launched a new super-rapid test train this past weekend.

The new high-speed train can travel as fast as 500 km/h (about 310 mph), and was made by a subsidiary China's largest train provider CSR Corp Ltd. It launched over the weekend and was created to resemble an ancient Chinese sword.

"[It] will provide useful reference for current high-speed railway operations," said Shen Zhiyun, a train expert.

The train consists of six cars, and has a maximum tractive power of 22,800 kilowatts. According to Ding Sansan, CSR's chief technician, the train's bodywork consists of plastic materials "reinforced with carbon fiber."

China's $1T USD high-speed rail bid hopes to build 13,000 km (8,078 miles) of high-speed rail network by 2012, and about 20,000 km (12,427 miles) by 2020.

This new launch comes after a series of high-speed train-related troubles throughout 2011. In February, Liu Zhijun, former Railways Ministry chief, was accused of pocketing $122 million USD and terminated from his position from corruption charges. In July, a collision between two high-speed trains in Wenzhou killed at least 40 people and injured another 210.

Other issues with China's high-speed trains included the use of low-quality materials to build the tracks, which led to trains nearly derailing and the country having to drop the top speed of trains from 218 mph to 186 mph, and costly ticket prices for the use of high-speed trains. These problems led to slowed construction of the rail system, which worried some that the project could eventually lead to bank failures.

"In China, we will have a debt crisis -- a high-speed rail debt crisis," said Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, earlier this year. "I think it is more serious than your subprime mortgage crisis. You can always leave a house or use it. The rail system is there. It's a burden. You must operate the rail system, and when you operate it, the cost is very high."

Source: Reuters

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