China launches prototype “gauge changing” train for international travel

China has unveiled a prototype of a high-speed locomotive that can run on any gauge of track.

The 400km/h engine has "gauge-changing bogies" that could potentially speed up rail travel across international rail systems.

At present, trains must either stop at a break of gauge or wait while new bogies are fitted.

Plans to develop the cross-border train were first revealed in 2016.

The train was developed by CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, a division of state-owned CRRC Corporation, the world’s largest maker of rolling stock.

The project was supported by a $5.2bn research grant from the Chinese government.  

The company said its product could operate in temperatures between -50 and 50°C, can use a number of power sources and meet the railway standards of different countries.

The possibility of the train was first suggested by Jia Limin, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University and head of China’s high-speed rail innovation programme in June 2016. Jia told the China Daily newspaper at the time that the train would make its international debut on the 770km Moscow-Kazan high-speed line in Russia.

With the launch of the prototype, CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles is open for orders.

The company, based in Jilin province in the extreme northeast of China, makes around 190 electric locomotives a year, as well as 4,000 urban mass transit vehicles and 600 mainline passenger vehicles. It has a turnover of about $12bn and has exported to 20 countries.

Image: A bullet train in Beijing’s southern station (Dreamstime)

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