Wuhan-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway

The Wuhan-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway (aka Wu-Guang Passenger Railway) is the second and latest high-speed passenger-dedicated railway ever built in China.  It is state owned and operated by the Wuhan and Guangzhou Railway Bureaus under the Ministry of Railways.  Its mainline covers a distance of 968 km (601 miles) from the northern terminal in Wuhan, capital of the Hubei Province to its southern terminal of Guangzhou South in Guangzhou (aka Canton), capital of the Guangdong Province.  Of the 968 km of mainline, 468 km is laid on bridges and 177 km in tunnels.  The Wu-Guang line is part of the planned Beijing to Kowloon high-speed railway (over 2,100 km or 1,300 miles) and will be the third railway to connect Beijing and Hong Kong.  The construction of the Wu-Guang line began on 23 June 2005 and commercial services between Wuhan and Guangzhou North (922 km or 573 miles) began at 0900h on 26 December 2009 with trains achieving a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph).  Guangzhou South Station was later opened on 30 January 2010.

Wuhan Station with CRH3C in the foreground and CRH2C in the background

The signal system used on the Wu-Guang line is Chinese Train Control System Level 3 (CTCS-3) which combines GSM-R wireless signal communications, balises, and ATP (Automatic Train Protection).  The CTCS-3 is functionally equivalent to the ETCS-2 where the E stands for European.  The current rolling stocks used on the Wu-Guang line are the CRH2C (based on the Kawasaki E2-1000) and the CRH3C (Siemens Velaro C), both manufactured in China.  These trains have a standard consist of 8 cars and are usually coupled (with the same model, these trains are not compatible with each other for obvious reasons) into 16-car trains in service.  None-stop services on the Wu-Guang line travel between Wuhan and Guangzhou North in just 3 hours (compared to 10 hours on the existing Beijing-Guangzhou Railway) with a start-stop average speed of 313 km/h (194 mph), making Wu-Guang officially the fastest commercial railway in the world.

Kawasaki CRH2C on the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway

Siemens CRH3C on the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway

Please feel free to read on for some brief background information about fast trains in China, it might come in handy one day when you need to book a train there.

Update: a report by Train of the Week on riding the Wu-Guang HSR is linked here.


Fast trains in China
Train services in China are numbered but not named like North American countries, and train numbers have a prefix of one English letter to indicate the type of service.  Before high-speed rail, there are already a number of fast train services on China’s existing mixed running railway mainlines.  Here is how one can tell if a train in China is of the higher end, faster kind.  Let α, β, γ, δ denote integers in the closed interval [0, 9]:
  • Gαβγδ, where G stands for gaosu in Mandarin and means high-speed: these are the true high-speed trains running on dedicated lines with a top speed of up to 380 km/h (236 mph).
  • Dαβγδ, where D stands for dongchezu and means multiple-unit: there are DMU or EMU (loosely speaking, since push-pull trainsets are used sometimes, the majority of proper EMUs in China are imported from Bombardier, Alstom, and Kawasaki) services on dedicated lines or mixed running lines with top speeds ranging from 160 km/h (100 mph) to 250 km/h (155 mph).
  • Zαβγδ, where Z stands for zhida and means non-stop: these are conventional locomotive-with-carriages trains that either do not stop between origin and destination or make very few stops with a top speed of 160 km/h or 100 mph.

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