China has flexed its innovative muscles to incoming 2022 Winter Olympians who have hopped aboard the country’s new high-speed, self-driving railway system that can produce train speeds as fast as 217 miles per hour.
China’s “Bullet Train” railway line opened in January 2022, with construction beginning on the project three years ago in 2019.
The intercity system is buried 102 meters below ground and covers more than 36,000 square meters, including a 12-kilometer-long tunnel system, which makes it the world’s deepest and largest underground high-speed railway station.
Because of the extensive distance of the train platform, the station gate closes for ticket holders, a whole 12 minutes before the train’s departure, to ensure passengers have enough time to make it to the car before its departure.
The railway system also passes underneath one of the most monumental sites in all of the world: The Great Wall of China. The train passes through the Badaling Great Wall station, which opened in December 2019. The station is a few short minutes away from the Great Wall cable car station, which is around a half-mile from the starting point of the Badaling Great Wall station.
The Bullet Train is also home to China’s second-longest escalator, which stretches a total of 88 meters long and 42 meters high.
Not only is the train an example of cutting edge modernism in China’s society. It also aims to assist athletes and participants to move efficiently and safely in between the three Olympic sites.
There are only two routes acceptable for Olympic participants to ride during the duration of the Games – from Beijing to Yanqing and from Beijing to Zhangjiakou. Participants can access all three event sites, which are held across these three clusters of China: Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.
Accessibility to the train lies in a boarding terminal, much like an airport, within China’s “closed loop” system, considering the country’s zero-tolerance policy to COVID-19.
It takes about 108 miles to get from Beijing to the Olympic site in Zhangjiakou. The self-driving train turns a typical three-hour car ride, from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, into a quick 56-minute jolt on the train track.
Going from Beijing to the other Olympic site in Yanqing takes a total of approximately 20 minutes on this railway system, which would normally take close to an hour via car ride.
The Bullet Train begins at nominal speeds, slowly revving up to its maximum 217 mph speed – three times as fast as a Cheetah.
The train is technically self-driving, however there is always a driver on board overseeing the mechanism, which is somewhat reassuring considering its intense velocity.