SHANGHAI: The first part of a magnetic levitation train line was laid yesterday in Pudong, starting an 18-month construction project with German technology.
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were present for the construction kickoff.
The line is expected to make China the first nation to operate such a line for profit.
"The beam will have been completed by October next year, which assures that the train line is put into use in spring of 2003," said Xu Xin, an engineer of the Magnetic Levitation Train Line Command Post.
The project will use powerful magnets to hold the train a few millimeters above the track and propel it with little noise or vibration.
It will increase speed by reducing the friction encountered by standard wheels-and-rail transport, sending trains zipping along on an electromagnetic cushion.
Wu Xiangming, director of the project, said construction is moving to a new phase now that preliminary structures have been built. Preparations started in July.
China is the third country in the world, following Germany and Japan, to apply magnetic train technology. The patent for it was bought from Germany.
The other two countries used the technology for experimentation, but China is the first with plans to operate the train for profits.
China will spend 8.9 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) on this 60.1-kilometer track. The tracks will go to-and-fro, which is different from the figure-eight shape in the other nations.
Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute designed the project with expertise from German experts, Xu said.
Zhu and Schroeder inspected the base and the factories which make beams during the final day of Schroeder's third visit to China. He also visited some leading German firms in Shanghai.
(China Daily November 3, 2001)