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More opinions solicited on maglev line
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Construction of a plan to extend Shanghai's maglev line is still awaiting final approval from the central government, the city's mayor, Han Zheng, said yesterday.

Han said that the project, which has triggered concerns over noise and possible health hazards among people who live near the proposed route, will not be completed before the 2010 World Expo.

"It is impossible (to finish) before 2010. The project hasn't even started yet.

"We never said the line would be completed before the Shanghai Expo," Han told China Daily yesterday on the sidelines of the NPC session.

He said the central government will have the final say on the project upon giving due consideration to discussions by a panel of experts.

The extension, which is intended to connect Longyang Road with Hongqiao, the city's second international airport, was designed to stop at the Expo garden and was expected to ease traffic congestion during the 2010 event, which is expected to attract 70 million people during the period.

The city already has a maglev train riding on a magnetic cushion along a 30-km-long track between suburban Shanghai and the international airport in Pudong New Area.

It has also been proposed that the maglev train should link Shanghai and Hangzhou, a tourist city in Zhejiang province.

But the planned extension was shelved last May in the face of fierce opposition from people living near the proposed line, who said they feared the potential effects of magnetic radiation and noise pollution.

The government came up with a revised route early this year.

It avoided densely populated areas, but insiders said the changes could double the original cost upwards to 500 million yuan ($70 million) for each kilometer built.

These changes were also said to be inadequate in clearing up the remaining opposition, so the government decided to solicit more public comments on the project.

Han said yesterday that public opinion will be respected, and a pool of experts are still discussing routes for the maglev track.

He did not say when the discussions will conclude.

"We respect the science, and will listen to opinions from all sides," the mayor said.

"Administrative power is not involved (in the discussions). The nation will eventually decide on it."

(China Daily, March 6, 2008)

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