I’m on a "hexie" (He Xie Hao CRH3 EMU), the world’s fastest intercity train, from Beijing to Tianjin: 120 km in 30 minutes, at a top speed of 350 km/h (supposedly… but I didn’t see it go above 320 km/h.)

Hexies

Impressive numbers, but not really an impressive train network… because this service is all there is! Nothing to Shanghai, nothing to Hong Kong. China is all about superlatives – this is the fastest – but for a useful high speed rail network you need to head to Japan, or one of the European countries with decent trains (France, Germany…)

The inside of the trains is a close copy of the N700 Shinkansen. From the outside, the train is sleek but looks less aerodynamic than the N700, which has rubber seals at the couplings rather than a big gap like most other trains. So I have no idea how it manages to be so fast. Better motors? More modern track design?

They’re proud of these trains though.. at the Beijing end, an army of workers handwashes each car with a squeegee before every run!

Cleaning the Hexie

(Entry written May 23, 2010)