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High-speed Maglev Technology Passes the Test
"The trial run of the Shanghai Transrapid Maglev Line has proven that the once-controversial high-speed maglev technology is applicable," chief engineer of the project Wu Xiangming said in Shanghai on Tuesday.

The Shanghai Transrapid Maglev Line, the world's first high-speed commercial commuter system using state-of-the-art electromagnetic levitation technology, was put into trial operation on Tuesday.

Wu, who has served as chief engineer for large construction projects like the third phase of the Baoshan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. (Baosteel) and the Pudong International Airport, served as chief engineer for the transrapid maglev line for more than two years.

In an interview with Xinhua, Wu dismissed the question of whether it is worthwhile to spend 10 billion yuan (about US$1.21 billion) on a 30-km maglev railway, stressing that production costs for future maglev lines can be sharply reduced.

Wu enumerated ways to lower future costs.

The line, as short as it is, has the same control center and maintenance base as longer lines. Thorough research had to be conducted to build the current control center, however, this cost will be greatly reduced in the future large-scale construction of maglev lines.

He went on to say that, in the construction of the current line, the majority of the equipment and parts were imported from Germany and manufactured by assembly lines, a vital factor which raised the cost.

However, given the huge prospects for maglev lines in China and other countries, the German side is actively supporting the initiative to manufacture such equipment and parts in China, which will drastically reduce costs, said Wu.

He added that the Chinese engineers have already mastered certain aspects of maglev technologies, and the construction of the current line has enabled a great number of researchers and technicians to learn about the technology, providing the foundation for China to undertake its own domestic production of maglev technology and equipment.

Wu also stressed the role of maglev lines in driving forward socio-economic development in the country.

The maglev train will ensure that it takes no more than 30 minutes to travel between neighboring cities in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and areas around Bohai Bay in north China, thus boosting economic integration in these areas, he said.

He said the maglev train will also make long-distance business trips and traveling more economical and faster.

"The importing of maglev technology will help China to take full advantage of its competitive edge and facilitate the building of a series of high-speed railways, thus driving forward the growth of a series of new high-tech sectors," Wu added.

The Shanghai Transrapid Maglev Line is designed to reach speeds of up to 430 kilometers per hour. The builders are still busy preparing for double track operations, and the commercial venture will be in full swing in 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2003)

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