10 years and 27000 kilometers later

My friend Yao is in China again visiting friends and family. He knows all about my fascination with railroads. So anytime he runs across something train related he tends to take some photographs and will send them to me. He has done it before, as can be seen in this blog entry about his travels in Peru. 

This time he is in Qingdao, a city on the north eastern coast of China. One of the interesting tidbits about this city is the fact that it was occupied by the Germans from 1898 to 1914. Germans being Germans they must have beer. Thus they founded the Tsingtao brewery in 1903, which is still going strong. The historic city center of the city still has a number of German built buildings, including the train station.  

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 The Qingdao train station                                   All three photos by Yao Zhao

The Qingdao train station                                   All three photos by Yao Zhao

Yao's email with the photograph of a high speed train arrived at an appropriate time: exactly ten years ago the Chinese embarked on their quest to built a network of high speed rail lines connecting the far flung regions of this huge country. After a decade there are now roughly 27000 kilometers (ca. 16800 miles) of dedicated high speed rail lines. The China Railway Corporation expects to have 38000 kilometers (about 23600 miles) of high speed track in service by 2025. The company says that it carries just over four million passengers per day in its high speed trains. 

Brad and I did ride some of the high speed trains during our last visit to China. Here are a few photographs from that trip:

 The Shanghai HST Station

The Shanghai HST Station

 One of the HST units at Shanghai about to leave for Beijing. 

One of the HST units at Shanghai about to leave for Beijing. 

 On the way to X'ian at 295 kilometers per hour. A tad above 180 miles per hour. 

On the way to X'ian at 295 kilometers per hour. A tad above 180 miles per hour. 

 One does get a meal in First Class. It did taste better than it looked!

One does get a meal in First Class. It did taste better than it looked!

 A significant portion of the high speed track is elevated. 

A significant portion of the high speed track is elevated. 

A note about high speed trains. The UIC (International Union of Railways) generally uses the minimum speed of 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour) as the principal criteria to define high speed rail. Under certain, rare circumstances the UIC considers a minimum of 200 kilometers per hour (ca. 125 miles per hour) high speed rail, but only if the following criteria (among some others) are met:

Uniform, standardized rolling stock. No track side signaling. Uniform, centralized control centers. Separation of freight and passenger trains.