<p><strong>The CRH 380 model (pictured at the CSR Qingdao Sifang train factory) is the star of the Chinese high-speed rail fleet-a program moving very quickly, despite occasional safety concerns, to connect <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/china-guide/">China</a>'s population centers. </strong></p><p>Some Chinese trains can reach cruising speeds of 217 miles (350 kilometers) an hour—and when pushed to top speed can exceed 300 miles (482 kilometers) an hour.</p><p>Such advances may come at a cost. Development of China's high-speed rail has been wrought with unanswered questions about safety as well as the origins of China's quickly attained technology, according to a new <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/10/121005-china-high-speed-rail-trains-transportation-world/">National Geographic investigative report</a>.</p><p>For instance, Chinese executives who run the country's rail development have been accused of pushing the though rural areas with little thought to the affected communities. But some Chinese technocrats see trains like the 380 as symbols of how China can "leapfrog" Western countries.</p><p><em>—With reporting by Ian Johnson</em></p>

Fast as a Bullet?

The CRH 380 model (pictured at the CSR Qingdao Sifang train factory) is the star of the Chinese high-speed rail fleet-a program moving very quickly, despite occasional safety concerns, to connect China's population centers.

Some Chinese trains can reach cruising speeds of 217 miles (350 kilometers) an hour—and when pushed to top speed can exceed 300 miles (482 kilometers) an hour.

Such advances may come at a cost. Development of China's high-speed rail has been wrought with unanswered questions about safety as well as the origins of China's quickly attained technology, according to a new National Geographic investigative report.

For instance, Chinese executives who run the country's rail development have been accused of pushing the though rural areas with little thought to the affected communities. But some Chinese technocrats see trains like the 380 as symbols of how China can "leapfrog" Western countries.

—With reporting by Ian Johnson

Photograph by Michael Yamashita, National Geographic

Pictures: Chinese High-Speed Rail in Focus

China's bullet trains are second to none. But the booming high-speed rail system may come at the cost of safety and farmers' livelihoods.

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