Alstom was one of the foreign companies China cooperated with to develop high-speed trains. There, the ETR 600 from the Pendolino family was taken as the basis and the CRH5A without tilting technology was developed from it. The 60 trains initially ordered are being used on the 189 km route between Shijiazhuang and Taiyuan, which was electrified with the support of Alstom.
The first six trains were manufactured entirely in Italy and shipped. Six trainsets were shipped to China as assemblies and then finally assembled there. Only the next trains were then completely manufactured in Changchun thanks to technology transfer. In each eight-car train, five cars have traction motors on one axle of each bogie. With a top speed of 250 km/h or 155 mph, they are among the trains for shorter distances by Chinese standards.
The first repeat order for 30 sets came in 2009, the second for 20 followed in 2010 and 2011 another 30 sets were ordered. A special variant is the CRH5E, which consists only of sleeping cars and is designed for use in colder climates. The CRH5G and CRH5H variants consist of the usual coaches, but in addition to the adaptations for cold climates, they also have adaptations for use in sandstorms. The yellow and white painted CIT001 is a one-off that is used as a test train for the condition of the tracks, overhead lines, communication and signaling systems.