China will start services on the country’s first high-speed rail line through its high-latitude, freezing north-eastern provinces from 1 December 2012.
Trains will run at a maximum speed of 350kmph on the high-speed rail line, which connects the north-eastern city of Harbin and port city of Dalian.
The 921km line has 24 stations, connecting ten cities and running through China’s north-eastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
The new route is one of the four north-south lines that China wants to complete by the end of 2015, and is expected to reduce travel times between Harbin and Dalian to four hours from the current nine hours.
According to engineers on the railway project, the new line will be capable of operating in extreme weather conditions, withstanding temperatures as low as -39.9°C in winter and as high as 40°C in summer.
The line is also equipped with technology to remove snow and ice from the line and to protect its power supply during sub-zero conditions, as the low temperatures of north-east China could threaten power supply and signalling systems during winter.
China completed a test run on the high-speed rail line in October 2012, using the eight-compartment CRH380B train model built by China Northern Railways.
The China Ministry of Railways has created emergency plans, such as speed reductions and temporary halts, to ensure safety and to reduce the impact of extreme weather on rail services.
Due to safety concerns related to the climate, the ministry has decided to adopt two different schedules.
Trains will operate at speeds of 200kmph during the winter season, from 1 December to 31 March, and at 300kmph during the summer period, from 1 April to 30 November.
China, which currently has about 6,800km of high-speed railway lines, is expected to increase the total length of its combined high-speed track to around 18,000km by 2015.