China has seen a high-speed railway boom over the past decade or so. Independent development has been the key to shaking off reliance on foreign technology, paving the way for its going out strategy.
A speed of 486.1 kilometers per hour. It could be a jet cruising at a leisurely pace, or one of China's high-speed trains.
"Built by our company, the CRH380A set a world record on December 3, 2010, during a trial run on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway," said Wu Donghua, deputy chief engineer of the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation Sifang company during an exclusive interview.
As one of the engineers on-site, Wu said he was both happy and relieved to see success. But during the early development of China's high-speed trains, it was another story entirely.
"Adaptability was a problem when we imported advanced technology from other countries in 2004," noted the engineer.
For example, foreign currents and then China's railways were not matched, that engineers had to make the adjustment, trying to use their own technologies to fix the differences, while for Wu, it was a force that sped up technological change.
"We were on our own as there were a lot of technical problems needed to handle from the imported technology," Wu said, confirming the sacrifices that hundreds of thousands of engineers have put in significant efforts.
"For me, I couldn't go home to spend the Spring Festival holiday with my family since 2008," said the engineer, as he needed to travel to different cities offering technical support for six consecutive years.
It was also the time when China's high-speed railway entered a period of development that new crew, new trains and new sections of railway emerged from.
In 2008, China rolled out its first high-speed railway at a speed of 350-kilometers per hour. Six years later, Wu was invited to help enact technical specifications for China's standard EMU train, also called the Fuxing bullet train.
"The EU's technical specifications for interoperability, or TSI, has unified standards of power supply and a signaling system among the different trains. But China went one step further," Wu continued, adding that China's engine drivers from different companies could share the same driving system besides the basic lines referred to in the EU's TSI. "It's with Chinese characteristics."
From importing to developing tech at home, and from comprehensive to sustainable innovation, a dozen years on, Wu said China's high-speed railways have fulfilled a leap in growth, from pursuer to front runner.
Put into operation in 2017, the Fuxing bullet train is entirely designed and manufactured in China. While people continue to demand speed, engineers are already eyeing the next big thing.
"We will step up efforts to build high-speed trains with the speed of 400 kilometers per hour, and high-speed maglevs of 600 kilometers per hour," Wu briefed the relationship between the two.
"The high-speed maglev and high-speed train complement each other," Wu detailed. "The high-speed train can reach top speeds of 350 km/h, and high-speed maglev trains can reach 550-600 km/h."
The engineer said the faster speeds of the high-speed maglev train site somewhere between the conventional high-speed train and the airplane, which can reach speeds of 800-1,000 km/h, that all three are expected to play their part in helping build a high-speed transportation network in the future.
When asked about the next step about high-speed maglev trains, Wu said they hope to have a high-speed test line for maglev trains, which is able to support speed testing.
"It's estimated to be finished within a year and a half, or between 12 and 18 months," Wu added, looking forward to the achievement China will make in this field.
By the end of 2020, China's railways reached over 140,000 kilometers, with 38-thousand kilometers of high-speed railway. Statistics from the International Union of Railways show China's close-looped high-speed railway security system is also the safest in the world.