Shanghai tried to put its three carriages of magnetic levitation (maglev) train on track for adjustment on the evening of September 11. During one hour the train started and stopped three times and passed a distance about 100 meters.
Shipped in just a month ago from Germany, the three carriages flashed before one's eyes: blue and red stripes on the white, streamlined body and bullet head-type head stock, giving people a hi-tech sense of the mysterious train. At 17:33, the train head began to slowly pull out from the track of the maintenance hall and got "levitated" for about one minute in the open air.
Totally different from the traditional wheel-and-track trains, the maglev train uses electromagnetic force to "lift up" itself and therefore runs without touching the track, expert explained. It costs much, and this 31-km commercial line in Shanghai involved a total investment of 8.9 billion yuan. But it has the characteristics of being fast, energy-saving, safe, comfortable, economical and pollution-free. With a speed of 430km per hour, it provides passengers traveling a distance of 1,000-1,500 km with a wider view and safer tour than they do by air, said an engineer.
At 17:53, the maglev train started again and ran for seven minutes. After half an hour it started for the third time and pulled all three carriages out of the maintenance base.
This line in Shanghai's Pudong is reportedly the world first maglev line for commercial operation, which combines the traffic, sightseeing and tourist services in one entity, runs a full length of 31.17km, with designed and operational speeds at 505 km and 430 km per hour respectively. It has nine carriages that can accommodate 959 people at one time. If it operates 18 hours per day and sees 12 departures per hour, the train can have a maximum annual transport volume of 150 million people, and it will take only seven minutes running from the Longyanglu subway station to Pudong International Airport.
By September all tracks will be laid down and the line will be put on single-track trial run at the beginning of next year, and on double-track by September 2003. The whole line is expected to formally open to traffic by December next year.
Noteworthy is the fact that the whole project is funded through market channels, for which eight enterprises joined hands in setting up the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co., Ltd, with a registered capital of 3 billion yuan. Other needed funds were raised from other market ways as well as donations from the German government.
(People’s Daily September 13, 2002)