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Chinese bullet train breaks 302 mph; breaks speed record

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China's CRH308A "Harmony" bullet train broke 302 miles per hour -- the speed of a cruising private jet -- on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, according to a Xinhua report.

Another day, another accolade for China's high-speed rail system.

The Chinese CRH308A "Harmony" bullet train broke 302 miles per hour -- 486.1 km/h, or the speed of a Bombardier Learjet 40XR cruising at low speed -- on a run on a pilot segment between Zaozhuang to Bengbu on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, according to a Xinhua report on Friday.

The translation's a little muddy, but the 1,318 km line -- that's almost 820 miles -- promises to reduce the travel time from Beijing to Shangai from 10 hours to four or five hours.

(While that's wonderful, consider that it's a tiny minority of China's total rail network, and that while speed records are a nice publicity coup, the real challenge is elevating the service for its not-so-fast regional trains.)

The high-speed line is scheduled to open "before the end of 2011," according to the (roughly translated) report.

To date, China has laid some 4,680 miles of high-speed track, with aims to built out its entire rail network to 74,565 miles of track by 2020, 9,941 miles of which would be high-speed.

The goal: serve 90 percent of China's population by train, somehow.

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure