On Thursday, the body prototype for the country's latest high-speed magnetic-levitation (maglev) train project rolled off the assembly line in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

Developed by the state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) -- the world's largest supplier of rail transit equipment -- the sleek-looking train is scheduled to go into commercial production in 2021 following extensive tests.

Those involved with the project are optimistic it will completely transform China's travel landscape, filling the gap between high-speed rail and air transportation.

"Take Beijing to Shanghai as an example -- counting preparation time for the journey, it takes about 4.5 hours by plane, about 5.5 hours by high-speed rail, and [would only take] about 3.5 hours with [the new] high-speed maglev," said CRRC deputy chief engineer Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team, in a statement.

Maglev trains use magnetic repulsion both to levitate the train up from the ground, which reduces friction, and to propel it forward.

China's new prototype won't be the first train to surpass the 600-kilometer mark when it hits the testing track.

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