(ECNS) -- China's high-speed railcar maker CRRC has started a special project to research high-speed rail vehicles that can reach speeds up to 600 kilometers per hour, according to Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of CRRC Industrial Research Institute.
The project, one of 18 national key research and development plans set by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016, is researching both high-speed passenger and freight trains, Sun said. The project will be completed by 2021 at a total investment of over 9 billion yuan ($580 million).
The project includes six types of trains -- three for freight, one high-speed passenger train and two types of maglev trains, according to Chinese-language Science and Technology Daily.
Freight trains with speeds of 250 km/h can transport seafood from Haikou in South China's Hainan Province to Beijing in north China in one day, according to a project officer at CRRC.
Research into maglev includes a train that can reach 600 km/h and another that travels at 200 km/h. Research is to prepare for "the post-high-speed rail age" in technology, said Sun.
The cost of a 600 km/h maglev train is almost the same as a 400 km/h version, according to recent research.
So far, Japanese-made maglev trains can travel 603 km/h at its maximum speed and German-designed maglevs can hit 505 km/h. The operating speed of maglev trains in Shanghai, which use German technology, is 430 km/h.
The first Chinese-made high-speed maglev train will roll off the operation line in 2018, the report said.
At a forum in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, Liu Shiquan, deputy general manager at CASIC, said China will research ultra-speed trains that can "fly" at 4,000 km/h.