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1) "you'll find reports sourced to Siemens engineers on the German Wikipedia indicating an official top speed of 300 km/h in August 2008 (and operation to 340)"
I think no one is disputing that the export prototype is designated by the German engineers to have maximum operational speed lower than 350km/h. The question was rather whether Chinese engineers simply took these trains, and put a different label on them, and let them, de jure, run at a higher speed for which they are not designed.
The chinese sources say that that is not what the chinese engineers did. They, according to these sources, modified the prototype to produce trains that are in fact capable of running at 350km/h in commercial operation.
2) "Speed profiles I saw trawling hasea.com (can't find it again, but this thread has trip report photos in line with that) showed 330 km/h max. in regular Beijing-Tianjin operation."
This pertains to the Beijing-Tianjin line, which I have also read/heard about. I do get the impression that the chinese were making claims ahead of time. But see below.
3) "I found photo-documented trip reports, which showed that 350 km/h is reached but not maintained continuously,"
I don't know how a handful of photos can "show" that a particular speed is not maintained continuously. For that you need a video.
4) " a thread where they say that timeplans were laid out for 330 km/h max. That sounds like a more realistic and equipment-friendly operation."
If you have read/translated the whole thread you quoted, you'd know that what the poster said was much more than this. He/she spoke of models of the "second-phase", which, according to him/her, have just come out. And according to him/her, models of the "second-phase" are capable of running at 350km/h, whereas models of the "first-phase" (to which both CRH2c and CRH3c apparently belong) were only capable of running at 330km/h.
The poster's main question was: given that these new models just came out, are they going to mix the models from these two different phases, and let both run on the Wuguang line, even though the new models are capable of the higher speed of 350km?
So the whole post does not question the 350km/h commercial speed, rather, it confirms it.
5) "You asked what I read about attempts to improve aerodynamics with a modified nose shape. You see that nose shape in the diary, and what I read was this, where the poster says (again if I can trust Google-translate) that aerodynamic tests showed that it wasn't better than the original nose shape."
Again, the poster seems to say something completely different. First, the whole thread about CRH2 series, not about CRH3 series. The article I quoted, where the aerodynamic improvement was mentioned, is exclusively about CRH3 series.
Second, the poster appears (I say this because I am not able to view the pictures he attaches to his post) to put some pictures of an improved nose of CRH2, and then he writes (about this I am certain) that "an modified nose before this version was abandoned, because tests showed that it was not better than the japanese original aerodynamically" (roughly). So what was not successful, according to the poster, was the modification before the one he was showing with a picture. In other words, there were at least two modifications, the earlier one was said to be not better than the japanese original. Nothing was said about the later modification.
So all in all, we should distinguish two issues:
A) did the chinese take trains designed for a lower commercial speed and made them, by fiat as it were, run at a higher commercial speed?
B) do the chinese in fact have trains that are capable of running at 350km/h commercially?
I think there is no evidence whatsoever the answer to A) is yes, and that is what mystifies me about your original blog (and many others similar to yours). All the chinese sources - both the government ones as well as the one's you are relying on from chinese fans - indicate otherwise.
With regard to B) I think it indeed seems likely that the chinese were making claims ahead of themselves: they only managed to create models capable of running at 330km/h when they claimed back in 2008 that they have trains running at 350km/h commercially.
But there seems to be - among the chinese fans whom you linked - a reference to a new set of models (those of the "second-phase") that have just come out, and that are indeed capable of the 350km/h speed they announced almost two years ago.
Thanks by the way for the this reference:
"One finds a detailed list of the planned modifications and research for the CRH2-350 and CRH3-350 here. "
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