China’s driverless bullet train to travel at 350 kilometers per hour

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/3 15:53:39

Aerial photo taken on December 6, 2018 shows a Fuxing bullet train running on the Hangzhou-Huangshan railway. Photo: Xinhua

China's new generation of automatic-driving bullet trains are expected to travel at 350 kilometers per hour along the Jing-Zhang high-speed railway that connects Beijing and Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province.

The trains, built by the China Railway Corporation (CRC), will be the world's first automatic-driving trains to run at speeds of between 300 to 350 kilometers per hour, Science and Technology Daily reported on Thursday. 

According to a press release CRC sent to the Global Times, the Fuxing bullet trains are emblematic of indigenous innovation in the high-speed train sector.

The Fuxing bullet train adopts the automatic train operating (ATO) system which has been used on subways and some intercity railways in China, according to the Sciences and Technology Daily report.

The ATO contains equipment at each station and onboard the trains and a system that connects the two.

"The bullet train can automatically depart, operate between stations and adjust the train's operation to meet its precise timetable after a single button is pressed," a researcher from China Academy of Railway Sciences told the Sciences and Technology Daily.

Entirely designed and manufactured in China, the Fuxing, or Rejuvenation, debuted on the Beijing-Shanghai line on June 26, 2017. The maximum speed of the trains has reached 350 kilometers per hour, cutting the journey between the Chinese capital and the country's major financial hub to 4 hours and 28 minutes, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Currently high-speed trains are driven by drivers who start, accelerate, slow down and stop the trains based on dispatch orders, signals and other information.

The CRC tested the automatic driving system on a Beijing-Shenyang railway test section for 94 days in 2018, with the system passing all tests with stable operation and accurate control of trains, the expert said.

Sun Zhang, a railway expert and professor at Shanghai Tongji University, told the Global Times on Thursday that the implementation of automatic-drive in high-speed trains will go through two phases.

A train attendant will be on board the train during the first phase in case anything goes wrong with the ATO system, and in 10 years time the attendant will be removed and high-speed trains will be completely driverless.

"An automatic driving system could greatly improve the safety of trains which run on high-speed railways, compared with human drivers who may have sudden health problems or disregard safety precautions during driving," Sun said.

And driverless trains will be much safer than driverless cars, as they move on fixed tracks, Sun said.

The Jing-Zhang high-speed railway, a new railway being built for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is at a critical stage in construction.

It is designed for travel between Beijing and the Winter Olympic Village in just 50 minutes.

It takes 3.5 hours to drive the between the two places.

Newspaper headline: Fuxing to be first self-driving bullet train


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