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Shanghai maglev line questioned over high cost

A recent online post comparing the speed of the magnetically levitated train with the high-speed rail in Shanghai has aroused questions from the public over the project's high cost.

According to a report from the Yangcheng Evening News, the comments were posted in an online forum last Sunday after Zhen Jian, the chief planner at the Ministry of Railways, said last Saturday that China had decided to build a Maglev line between Shanghai and Hangzhou.

The post said that it takes 48 minutes by high-speed rail and 38 minutes by Maglev train, meaning the Maglev train would only shave ten minutes off the travel time. However, according to the Sate Council's 2006 plan, the Maglev line between Shanghai and Hangzhou will cost 35 billion yuan, or 5.13 billion U.S. dollars.

Many Internet users questioned the Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev line's high cost and doubted whether the project is necessary, especially since the high-speed rail will be complete this year. Moreover, some netizens advised the National People's Congress to supervise the government's project.

"The Maglev line project was not approved recently, instead it was approved in 2007, and the Maglev line will not be built in a short time," an MOR employee explained to the Yangcheng Evening News on Monday.

The report revealed that on the Internet, people also expressed concern over the Maglev line's enormous maintenance costs and its radiation's harm to the health of residents along the line.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Maglev demonstration line from Pudong Airport to Longyang Road has reportedly been in the red since beginning operations. The 2007 extension of the Maglev line was postponed when local people protested due to the removal of houses along the railway and the health effects of its radiation.