According to a report in the Railway Gazette, two prototype vehicles intended to support research into a 600kph maglev system were unveiled by CRRC Qingdao Sifang in China on 23 May.
The 53m-long locally developed prototype, which comprises a driving car and an ‘intermediate vehicle’, has been built as part of a five-year maglev development programme announced by China’s Ministry of Science & Technology in 2016.
Led by CRRC Qingdao Sifang (www.crrcgc.cc
), the project has a total budget of 3.2 billion yuan (about $463 million), of which the government committed 433 million yuan (with the remainder to be raised by CRRC Group).
The programme includes the construction of a 5km-long test track in the Qingdao area by 2021, facilitating research into vehicle design, guideways, communications and power supply technologies.
Work on the test centre is already under way, and the first facilities are expected to be ready by the end of this year.
According to Ding Sansan, CRRC Qingdao Sifang’s deputy chief engineer heading up the maglev research and development team, the prototype has already achieved ‘static levitation’.
She said this will be used ‘to optimise the key technologies and core system components for the high-speed maglev system, and form the technological basis for the forthcoming engineering prototype’.
The five-car engineering prototype train is scheduled to be produced by 2020, after which it will be the subject of a comprehensive testing programme, with the integration and verification stages due to be completed in 2021.
China has already developed a low-speed maglev line, which is operating in commercial service as a feeder to the Beijing metro network.
As part of a government-initiated programme, CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Corp is leading research into a medium-speed maglev suitable for 200kph applications.