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The World’s First Driverless Bullet Train Is Now Running in China

Train Travel News
by Eben Diskin Jan 10, 2020

If auto-pilot cars freak you out, you should probably stay away from this driverless bullet train that goes 217 miles per hour. In preparation for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, a 108-mile railway line opened on December 30 between Beijing and the host city of Zhangjiakou, cutting the travel time between the two cities from three hours to just 47 minutes. What really makes these Fuxing series trains unique — and potentially terrifying — is that they will be the world’s first to operate without a driver.

The Jing-Zhang high-speed railway will stop at 10 stations, including stations in Beijing, Yanqing, Zhangjiakou, and Badaling Chang Cheng, which is the most popular section of the Great Wall. Currently, around 30 bullet trains are running daily between Beijing and Zhangiakou, though only six are driverless.

Apart from the driverless feature, these new “smart trains” will have 5G signals, intelligent lighting, and nearly 3,000 sensors that collect real-time data to detect operational abnormalities. Each seat will also be equipped with its own touch-screen control panel and wireless charging dock. Keeping the Olympic athletes in mind, the trains were designed with extra-large storage cabins for winter sports equipment, and there are reported plans to turn the dining car into a media center.

And in case you were worried you’d actually have to interact with a human in the station, robots and facial recognition technologies will be on hand in stations to assist passengers with ticket information, directions, luggage, and more.

Tickets range from $12 to $38 and need to be booked at least two days in advance.

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