Without media promotion, nor the noise usually associated with construction projects, the building of the world's first transrapid maglev railway line is progressing in China's largest commercial center, Shanghai.
The line, which is to play an important role in the country's transportation, people's lives and the country's economic development, has been under construction for almost a year.
Near a subway station in an industrial area of the city, a giant building with a steel dome stands out. It is the start of a concrete elevated railroad which will extend 30 kilometers to the international airport in the Pudong New Area.
Xia Guozhong with Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd. said that the construction of the railroad began in March last year, and already the railroad infrastructure, railway station, repair center and transformer substations have been completed.
More than 500 guideway girders, one-fifth of the total number required, and weighing an average 175 tons with a length of 24 meters, have been produced so far at the Shanghai-based guideway girders manufacture base.
Meanwhile, more than 5,400 tons of other equipment have been imported from several Germany-based companies.
However the smooth running construction project is seldom mentioned by local media. Xia explained that this is because the technology is being used for a commercial project for the first time, and many unexpected problems could occur during construction.
As a big project costing nearly 10 billion yuan (about US$ 1.2 billion), the project's success or failure will affect many economic and technological circles in both China and Germany, he noted.
The two parties have agreed to concentrate on work rather than words during the construction phase, which is to be fully completed in the early 2003, the expert said.
When completed it will only take eight minutes for passengers on the maglev line trains to travel the 30-kilometers between Pudong International Airport and the downtown area of the city, he said, adding that the highest speed will top 430 kilometers per hour.
The guideway girders base, which stretches 1,700 meters along the railway construction area, has set up an advanced production line consisting of a 40,000-square-meter placement workshop, a 100,000-square-meter material ground and a 26,000-square-meter constant temperature workshop.
As a sign of the cooperation between China and Germany, the project is using a series of state-of-the-art technological developments and engineering designs, according to Yan Keming, deputy general director of the guideway girders manufacture base.
The guideway girders manufactured by Chinese technicians have been approved by German technologists and the manufacturing high- tech developments in the field have been given eight patents.
Hans Eichel, Germany's Finance Minister, visited the project construction area in January. He was optimistic about the successful Sino-German cooperation.
"As the first to introduce the maglev transportation technology into commercial service, China will make a contribution to the world's future market development in the sector of maglev transportation," the official said.
Heinrich V. Pierer, president of Germany-based Siemens Company, one of the project investors, said that the Germans as well as the Chinese are showing great interest in the maglev transportation project in Pudong.
Pierer keeps close contact with engineers in the project's construction area in Pudong wherever he is.
"Having problems with our cooperation is to be expected. We are ready to increase technological support, to send more technicians to the project, and to put every effort toward the project's final success," he said.
Chinese expert Yan Keming emphasized that the Sino-German cooperation in Pudong's maglev transportation project is of course a challenge for technologists and engineers from both countries.
( People's Daily February 6, 2002)