A new record has been claimed for the fastest freight train in the world. The Chinese train manufacturer CRRC Tangshan presented its new bullet train, designed to carry cargo at a speed of 350kilometers per hour. The new type rolled off the production line in Tangshan, in north China’s Hebei Province, on 23 December.
The model resembles that of a passenger train but has an 85% utility rate for cargo. It is made in such a way that it greatly reduces running resistance. High-speed train manufacturing is traditionally focussed on passenger traffic. Until now, the fastest freight train ran at a speed of 180kilometres per hour, operated by Mercitalia in Italy.
The freight trains will be able to travel on some of the more than 16,000kilometres of high-speed rail lines across China, transporting higher-value cargo such as e-commerce deliveries rather than bulk commodities such as coal, the sources said. Most freight trains follow rail lines designed only for low-speed travel. China’s fastest freight trains, which were put into service starting late 2014, can run up to 160kph.
Demand for non-bulk cargo has been rising, spurring development of a high-speed freight train, the CRC employee said. CRC trains hauled about 2.5 billion tonnes of goods in the first nine months of the year, down 11.4% from the same period in 2014, but non-bulk cargo tonnage rose 12.2%. To meet this demand, last year the CRC deployed six express cargo trains running on four routes to carry non-bulk cargo. These trains can run at speeds of up to 120 kph, Chinese business news service Caixin reports.
The CRRC train consists of eight wagons, with 2.9m-wide loading doors to ensure speedy loading and unloading. According to media sources, it is not only the fastest freight train in the world, but it can also be used at extreme temperatures: between -25°C and 40°C.
The train could cover 1,500 kilometers within five hours. Considering the large territory of China, this means a great boost to the domestic supply chain of goods. By the end of 2035, the nationwide rail network is to be expanded to a total of 200,000 kilometers, including around 70,000 kilometers of high-speed lines.
In May 2019, CRRC Qingdao Sifang unveiled a prototype of a new maglev high-speed train. The vehicle is able to travel at speeds up to 600 kph. The manufacturer plans to start mass production of the train this year.