China is the global leader in high speed rail and now is pushing the technological limits of the system by operating high speed trains in places of extreme temperatures. The Harbin-Dalian high speed rail line has been tested and is currently running through areas of Northeastern China where temperatures reach negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Running passenger high speed trains at these incredibly low temperatures have raised many safety concerns. Zhou Li, a technology official with China’s Ministry of Railways, says the Ministry has run 22 research projects to test technology obstacles including monitoring of the track conditions under a range of temperature differences throughout the different seasons.
Before the Harbin-Dalian line, the world had three high speed railways running in extremely cold regions located in Northern Europe and Russia. However these European high speed rail lines pale in comparison to the length and speed of China’s new line.
Even with the reassurance of the tests, China’s Ministry of Railways is taking precautions. Train speeds during the winter season (December 1 to March 31) will be limited to 200 km per hour, 124.27 miles per hour. With the summer period (April 1 to November 30) trains are allowed to travel up to 300 km per hour; 186.41 miles per hour.
China’s total length of high speed railway is expected to reach about 18,000 km, over 11,000 miles, by 2015.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison