The Shanghai Transrapid Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) Line, the first-ever commercial line of its kind to employ German technology, is scheduled to be inaugurated in Shanghai on Tuesday.
Xinhua correspondent Wu Yu was fortunate enough to get a preview of the special train, including its cars, control center and the guideway currently under construction.
The streamliner, with vivid green and yellow stripes set against a superb white background, consists of three cars. The first is a VIP car with cozy and spacious chairs and tables for passengers, and the other two are very much like an economy class cabin with switches to adjust lights or call the attendant above each seat. And each train has 200 seats.
According to engineers, by the end of 2003 when the double lines are fully completed, the five-car, high-speed shuttle will depart every 10 minutes.
Driver Not on Board, But in Control Center
The Longyang Road Station in downtown Shanghai is the starting point of the 30-kilometer railway and the very heart of the transportation system -- the control center.
The propelling force of the Transrapid comes not from the train itself but from a "synchronous longstator linear motor" installed along the guideway, which is operated by a computerized system in the control center.
The 30-kilometer railway line is also monitored very closely in the control center through various sophisticated computer screens.
Guidway Girders Make up Half of Total Investment
The guideway girders on which the speeding train runs account for half of the total investment of approximately 10 billion yuan (about US$1.2 billion). They were manufactured in a 1.7-km-long workshop. Each girder, 24 meters long and 175 tons in weight, is equipped with various sophisticated devices.
Engineers say that some of the key component parts were manufactured in China and eight patents have so far been obtained for technological innovation.
(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2002)