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Ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympic games, China has launched world’s first driverless bullet train, which will reduce the travel time more than half. The train, at top speed, can go about 350km/hr. Zhangjiakou, where most of the skiing events will take place, currently takes about 3 hours to commute. With the bullet train in operation, the travel time will be reduced to a little less than hour, which is a considerable reduction from the eight hours it took in 1909, when the original line was established.
The trains are completely autonomous and will start and stop at stations according to a timetable. A driver will always be onboard to monitor any issues that may arise. Apart from the driver, there are also more than 2,500 sensors on the train to collect data and detect any “operational abnormalities”.
The project took four years to complete, with the first train being operational on December 30, 2019. According to media reports, the trains have been designed featuring extra storage space for sports equipment, and a dining car that can be converted into a mobile media centre for journalists covering the Games. Some of the trains on the new network are also “smart”, offering 5G internet, intelligent lighting, touch-screen control panels and wireless charging docks.
The line, also called Jingzhang intercity railway, has a total of 10 stations on the line, including Badaling Changcheng that provides access to the Great Wall of China. The line also connects Zhangjiakou, in the northern Hebei province along with Yanqing, located in Northwestern Beijing—both the places will host major events.
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