ZHENGZHOU, July 15, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Chinese bullet trains "Golden Phoenix" and "Dolphin Blue" pass each other on the railway line between Zhengzhou in central China's Henan Province and Xuzhou in east China's Jiangsu Province, July 15, 2016. Two Chinese trains "Golden Phoenix" and "Dolphin Blue" dashing at world-record 420 km per hour in opposite directions passed each other on parallel tracks on Friday, in the latest feat achieved by China in high-speed rail. (Xinhua/Li An)
BEIJING, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Like an Einsteinian thought experiment, two trains, each travelling at 420 km per hour in opposite directions, whizzed along and passed each other on parallel tracks on Friday in the latest astonishing achievement by China's high-speed rail.
At about 11:20 a.m., "Golden Phoenix" and "Dolphin Blue" met and passed one another between Zhengzhou in Henan Province and Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province.
MIND THE GAP
These "China-standard" trains, officially known as electric multiple unit (EMU) trains, are the first in the world to cross at such a high speed, according to Zhou Li, head of technological management at the China Railway Corporation, the national rail operator.
The gap between the two trains was only 1.6 meters when they met and the passengers, mostly technicians and journalists, felt only the slightest of jolts during the encounter. At a relative speed to one another of 840 km per hour, these trains are effectively travelling at the same speed as a cruising airliner.
What makes the event even more extraordinary is that Golden Phoenix and Dolphin Blue were both actually two trains coupled together, different models made by different companies, both subsidiaries of China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC).
Coupling such trains is very demanding technologically, in terms of synchronized pulling, braking and other key events, said Zhao Hongwei, chief researcher at the China Academy of Railway Sciences.
China began working on EMU trains in 2012 and in June 2015 the results of three years of intensive R&D were unveiled. The first EMU hit 385 km per hour later that year.
Tests like "coupled running" are designed to unify standards and reduce costs. They help make the train versatile enough to be run in many different environments, Zhou said.
China's EMU fleet of 2,395 trains is the world's largest and the total length of high-speed track in the country -- 19,000 km -- represents 60 percent of the global total.
NEXT STOP, THE WORLD
The success of the test shows China's mastery of the core technology needed for high-speed EMUs, Zhou told Xinhua. This is very significant for the branding and marketing of Chinese high-speed trains. China-standard EMU trains will be the leading model in the global marketing campaign.
The model can be adapted to various geological and operational situations, including extreme climatic conditions, a core competitive strength in the global market, he said.
Fully-automated traction, braking and network control systems outperform all rivals, Zhou said.
Chinese bullet trains have already found international customers in Indonesia, Russia, Iran and India.
Construction of a 150-km high-speed link between Indonesian capital Jakarta and nearby Bandung began in January 2016. It will cut travel time between the two cities by around two thirds. The project is almost entirely Chinese, including technical standards, survey and design, construction, equipment manufacture and personnel training. It is the first full-package overseas deal for China's high-speed trains, which should be running between the two cities within three years.
In 2014, the China Railway International Group was established to pursue railway cooperation between China and other countries. China's overseas railway strategy has picked up speed in recent years and Chinese companies are now actively seeking cooperative projects in Malaysia and Singapore, Mongolia, the United Kingdom, the United States and throughout Africa.