China on Wednesday introduced its latest high-speed train prototype with top speeds of up to 620 kilometers per hour (400 miles per hour), the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Longjiang-3X prototype, featuring nine cars and 57 air-conditioned seats, first set off on Tuesday to the port city of Daqing in the northern province of Hebei.
Named for the Tianhe-3, a previous prototype which reaches a top speed of 520 kph (340 miles per hour), the train will run between Dalian and Daqing before continuing on to Xinjiang in the southwest and Changsha in the north, with speeds in excess of 430 kph (268 miles per hour).
China is investing heavily in high-speed rail networks, which are improving safety and boosting transport capacity but have also faced criticism from environmentalists over toxic waste dumping and air pollution.
Currently in use, the network has covered 12,788 kms (8,750 miles) of tracks and carried more than 1.4 billion passengers, Xinhua said.
Xinhua said the prototype is more comfortable than the current Longjiang-3 and features a 6-ton magnetic levitation system, which allows the train to keep “against friction” until it reaches a certain speed and then lifts the tracks at that point.