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Official Denies Report on Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev

An official with the Zhejiang provincial government has denied media reports that a maglev line will be built between Shanghai and Hangzhou, capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province.


"We are merely studying possibilities for the high-speed railway. It's far too early to say whether we will adopt conventional technology or maglev technology," said Wang Guoxiang, a section chief of the province's planning commission.


But he conceded that Guangdong Province's decision not to use maglev technology for the rail link between Guangzhou and Zhuhai "more or less had some impact" on their decision-making.


Using traditional instead of maglev technology, Guangzhou is expected to save 15 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion).


Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Company has recently finished an interim study report on the project, triggering speculation that the technology would be used.


Wang said a proposal on conventional rail was submitted a long time ago, but some data needed updating.


Neither solution has been submitted for approval, he added. The railway is scheduled for completion by 2010.


The maglev system, which cannot be integrated with existing tracks, has been opposed by the Ministry of Railway. As China does not have all the core technologies, there is concern among government officials and academic circles over the system.


With strong support from the central government, especially former premier Zhu Rongji, Shanghai built a maglev line connecting the city proper with Pudong airport, which started commercial operations in January after one year of trials.


The 32-kilometre railway cost about 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) but according to a source familiar with maglev technology, building the railway elsewhere in China would not be so costly.


More technologies needed for the maglev line can now be developed by domestic scientists; and the land cost will not be as high as in Shanghai.


Another well-informed source, who did not want to be named, told China Daily that Shanghai plans to build a 7-kilometer maglev line to connect the existing Longyang station and the World Expo 2010 site.


"Despite the high price, it is important for Shanghai and the country to adopt the latest technology, and develop our own at the same time," the source said.


(China Daily March 12, 2004)


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