Trains running on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Railway reached a record speed of 385 kilometers per hour, 10% higher than the designed speed, in a test run carried out on Sunday, reported Chinanew.com.

Linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou in the northern province of Hebei, the 174-kilometer railway scheduled to go into operation by the end of the year will shorten the travel time between the two cities from the current three hours to less than one hour.

With a designed top speed of 350 km/h, the line is expected to be the world’s first autonomous, driver-monitored railway.

Joint debugging started earlier this month at a maintenance station in Changping District in Beijing to check all aspects of its operation through dynamic testing, and the train finally achieved the running speed of 385 km/h after adjustments.

Real-time data analysis from the monitoring center showed it performed well during the running process. More detections and examinations will be carried out for the whole line in subsequent tests, the report said.

According to the China Railway Electrification Bureau Group, the whole railway line will be equipped with intelligent substations, which can monitor the status of running trains in real time and deal with malfunctions online, improving the stability and safety of train operations.

A variety of intelligent robots will also be used at high-speed rail stations to guide passengers and help them carry their baggage.

It represents an important project for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and also has significant meaning for enhancing the integrated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, as well as connecting the western region of the country.

According to Wikipedia, High-speed rail (HSR) in China consists of a network of passenger-dedicated railways designed for speeds of 250–350 km/h (155–217 mph).

It is the world’s longest high speed railway network, and is also the most extensively used. China’s HSR accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway networks.

While other countries have struggled to make HSR a reality, state-owned China Railway Corp (CRC) has busied itself in laying down over 25,000 km of high-speed track over the last decade, according to Railway Technology online.

No nation comes close to rivalling China’s HSR construction story. According to a recent report published by The World Bank — which, itself, has financed around 2,600km of Chinese track — other countries would do well to follow Beijing’s example.

China has built the largest high-speed rail network in the world,” said Martin Raiser, the World Bank’s country director for China.

“The impacts go well beyond the railway sector and include changed patterns of urban development, increases in tourism, and promotion of regional economic growth. Large numbers of people are now able to travel more easily and reliably than ever before, and the network has laid the groundwork for future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to a recent report, China has also managed to build its high-speed network at an average cost of US$17M-US$21M per km – about two-thirds of the cost found in other countries. This cost-effectiveness is attributed to the standardization of designs and procedures.