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October 21, 2010

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Smooth, steady and fast

DESPITE hurtling along at 350 kilometers per hour on the world's fastest train, the Shanghai-Hangzhou High-speed Railway promises passengers a smooth and steady journey.
Compared with those on Shanghai-Nanjing High-speed Railway, which opened in July, the bullet-shaped trains on the Shanghai-Hangzhou line are more streamlined, an indication of a faster speed.
"I imagine that I am an aircraft pilot on the ground," Li Haiping, a driver, told the Shanghai Daily during a preview trip on the line.
Li, in his 30s and already an experienced high-speed train driver, passed several rounds of tests and interviews to be qualified for the job.
Leaving from Yuhang station, a town close to the terminal at Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, and heading towards Shanghai yesterday at 2:04pm, in about seven minutes, the train reached a speed of 350 km/h.
The new train reached a top speed of 416 kilometers per hour in a test run in July, breaking the world record.
But due to safety issues, the trains will not travel at that speed during routine service, only at a little above 350 km/h, the railway operator said.
As the train sped along, a bottle of water stood steady on the control board. "Fast and smooth," said Li. "That's the goal."
A computer on board will ensure the train keeps to a steady speed.
As it is a demanding job, Li will share the duties with other drivers along the route. Two or three will stay in the driver's cab. "Drivers should always have a sharp mind," said Li.
At 2:35pm, about 30 minutes after departing, the train arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station - the "aircraft" had landed.


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