Shinkansen-based trains debut in China


High-speed trains modeled after the sophisticated Hayate East Japan Railway Co. bullet train made debut runs on Chinese rails Sunday.

The trains started commercial operations on two routes, with one traveling the 303 km between Shanghai and Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, and the other covering the 171 km between Shanghai and Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

The trains, capable of maximum speeds of 250 kph, kept to a top speed of 160 kph. That is the current maximum speed for trains on Chinese tracks under a provisional arrangement through mid-April.

Railways Ministry spokesman Wang Yongping earlier said in Beijing the trains will travel no faster than 160 kph until April 18 to give drivers time to get used to them.

China is planning to start constructing a 1,300-km line to link Beijing and Shanghai by bullet train by the end of this year.

The train on the Shanghai-Nanjing route was scheduled to make 5 1/2 round trips Sunday, while the one on the Shanghai-Hangzhou route was to make two round trips.

The second-class fare was limited to 44 yuan, or 660 yen, on the Shanghai-Hangzhou route, and 72 yuan on the Shanghai-Nanjing route.

The first 16-car bullet train with 1,220 seats departed from Hangzhou at 7:15 a.m.

The two trains are among 60 for which a Japanese consortium led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. won a Chinese government order in 2004 under a Chinese plan to speed up services for its existing rail network.

The consortium is to deliver three of the trains while the remaining 57 will be manufactured at Chinese factories on the basis of technology transfers.