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China passenger train hits 300 mph, breaks speed record

BEIJING — A Chinese passenger train hit a record speed of 302 miles per hour Friday during a test run of a yet-to-be opened link between Beijing and Shanghai, state media said.

The Xinhua News Agency said it was the fastest speed recorded by an unmodified conventional commercial train. Other types of trains in other countries have traveled faster.

A specially modified French TGV train reached 357.2 mph during a 2007 test, while a Japanese magnetically levitated train sped to 361 mph in 2003.

State television footage showed the sleek white train whipping past green farm fields in eastern China. It reached the top speed on a segment of the 824-mile-long line between Zaozhuang city in Shandong province and Bengbu city in Anhui province, Xinhua said.

The line is due to open in 2012 and will halve the current travel time between the capital Beijing and Shanghai to five hours.

The project costs $32.5 billion and is part of a massive government effort to link many of China’s cities by high-speed rail and reduce overcrowding on heavily used lines.

China already has the world’s longest high-speed rail network, and it plans to cover 8,125 miles by 2012 and 10,000 miles by 2020.

The drive to develop high-speed rail technology rivals China’s space program in terms of national pride and importance. Railway officials say they want to reach speeds over 312 mph.