Citizens Long for Maglev Trip

Taxi driver Wu Zhengliang says, like many Shanghai residents, he can't wait for the opportunity to take a ride on the world's first rapid maglev train line, which is currently under construction in Pudong.

While prices haven't been set yet for a ride on the line, which will link Metro Line 2 with the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Wu said the experience will be worth the cost.

"Fifty yuan for a one-way trip is not expensive for me to experience traveling at such a high speed," said Wu.

The train, which is being built in cooperation with several German companies, will travel at a top speed of 430 kilometers per hour when it opens to the public in 2003.

The 30-kilometer trip between Longyang Road Station and the Pudong airport will take only eight minutes, compared with the 30 to 40 minutes it takes in a taxi.

The 10-billion-yuan (US$1.2 billion) project is being built as a trial of magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology that government officials hope to use on additional lines around the country.

Local officials said the maglev line is to play an important role in the country's transportation and economic development, as well as people's lives, although they won't say how many or what routes they hope to build in the future.

Construction on the line in Pudong began in March last year, and is progressing smoothly, said Xia Guozhong, a spokesman for the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd.

The railroad infrastructure, including 4-meter-tall support pillars, railway stations, a repair center and transformer substations, has already been completed, said Xia.

"Every day, power and control equipment, as well as other facilities for the line, arrives at Shanghai ports," said Xia, adding that train cars will start their sea voyage from Germany to the city around July.

German firms are supplying the trains and control systems for the line, while Chinese companies, like Shanghai Construction (Group) General Co., are building the mag-netic track.

China hopes to develop enough technology from the line linking the Metro to the airport to build future maglev lines without foreign help.

( February 7, 2002)

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