China’s ‘bullet train’ network is the largest in the world — and it’s about to get even bigger

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A rendering of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Station for the new “bullet train” line in China.
MTR Corporation

Stretching 15,500 miles, China’s “bullet train” network is already the largest in the world. By comparison, the second biggest high-speed rail network — in Spain — measures just 1,926 miles.

But by the end of 2018, China’s will get even longer.

China Railway Corp, the country’s government-owned train operator, will soon finish the last phase of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, a high-speed rail line spanning more than 80 miles.

Construction is near complete in Hong Kong, where China is building a 4 million-square-foot station for the new trains, as reported by The Hong Kong Free Press.

While the seven-year, $10.7 billion project is certainly impressive, it has faced much controversy surrounding its cost, its construction delays, and how it could affect Hong Kong’s political autonomy.

Take a look below.

The trains, named the Vibrant Express, can go up to 217 mph. They are equipped with power outlets and wi-fi.

The trains, named the Vibrant Express, can go up to 217 mph. They are equipped with power outlets and wi-fi. Reuters

Traveling from Hong Kong to Guangzhou will take under an hour. On China’s current intercity trains, the same trip lasts around two hours.

Traveling from Hong Kong to Guangzhou will take under an hour. On China’s current intercity trains, the same trip lasts around two hours. Reuters

The line connects to China’s existing 15,500-milelong national high-speed rail network — the largest in the world.

The line connects to China’s existing 15,500-milelong national high-speed rail network — the largest in the world. Reuters

Also known as Guangshen’gang XRL, the new railway will pass through seven stations when complete.

Also known as Guangshen'gang XRL, the new railway will pass through seven stations when complete.
A rendering of the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong.
MTR Corporation

Only one, dubbed the West Kowloon Station, is still under construction and will open in 2018. Here’s a rendering of what it will look like:

Only one, dubbed the West Kowloon Station, is still under construction and will open in 2018. Here’s a rendering of what it will look like:
A rendering of the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong.
MTR Corporation

The plan calls for 16 miles of underground track as well.

The plan calls for 16 miles of underground track as well. Laing O’Rourke/MTR Corporation

The photo below shows the construction of a tunnel in Hong Kong.

The photo below shows the construction of a tunnel in Hong Kong. MTR Corporation

While impressive, the project has also faced a lot of controversy.

While impressive, the project has also faced a lot of controversy. Reuters

In early 2018, China Railway Corp announced that trips from Hong Kong to Guangzhou would cost $33, raising concerns about whether it would be affordable for low-income commuters.

In early 2018, China Railway Corp announced that trips from Hong Kong to Guangzhou would cost $33, raising concerns about whether it would be affordable for low-income commuters.
Construction of the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong.
Reuters

In addition, construction of the $10.7 billion railway has experienced several delays and is over-budget.

In addition, construction of the $10.7 billion railway has experienced several delays and is over-budget. Reuters

CityLab also reports that pro-democracy activists are skeptical of the Chinese government’s intentions behind the project.

CityLab also reports that pro-democracy activists are skeptical of the Chinese government’s intentions behind the project. Reuters

Source: CityLab

In a 2017 New York Times op-ed, Lian Yi-Zheng, a political commentator, argued that the railway will allow China to undermine Hong Kong’s political autonomy under the longstanding “one country, two systems” arrangement.

In a 2017 New York Times op-ed, Lian Yi-Zheng, a political commentator, argued that the railway will allow China to undermine Hong Kong’s political autonomy under the longstanding AP

Yi-Zheng and other critics take issue with the immigration checkpoint that will be built inside Hong Kong’s West Kowloon district, which may allow the Chinese government to pass security laws that limit political freedoms in the city.

Yi-Zheng and other critics take issue with the immigration checkpoint that will be built inside Hong Kong’s West Kowloon district, which may allow the Chinese government to pass security laws that limit political freedoms in the city.
A rendering of the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong.
MTR Corporation

The Guangshen’gang XRL will certainly transform how residents commute across the country.

The Guangshen'gang XRL will certainly transform how residents commute across the country. MTR Corporation

By 2020, China plans to expand its high-speed rail network to around 18,600 miles, linking most of the nation’s big cities.

By 2020, China plans to expand its high-speed rail network to around 18,600 miles, linking most of the nation’s big cities. AP

Source: Business Insider

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