BIZCHINA / Top Biz News

Shanghai maglev gets official approval
By Miao Qing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-27 06:11

After two years of operation, China's first magnetic levitation line has formally passed State examination and appraisal.

Yesterday's announcement augurs well for the proposed construction of a line connecting Shanghai and Hangzhou.

The existing line was started in March 2001 and completed 22 months later. The 30-kilometre track connects Shanghai's Pudong Airport with the city, and is largely based on German magnetic levitation (maglev) technology.

Maglev trains can travel at a speed of up to 430 kilometres per hour, whizzing passengers to their planes in less than eight minutes.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which carried out the examination, the maglev trains had carried 6.23 million passengers by the end of March this year, both for transportation and sightseeing.

The cost of line was revealed to be 9.93 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion), slightly below budget.

The successful construction and operation of the Shanghai maglev line is regarded by many as a good prelude to the construction of 175-kilometre line connecting Shanghai with Hangzhou, provincial capital of East China's Zhejiang Province.

Technology will remain a big concern in the construction of the new line, officials said. The Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev line will in part use German technology, but the State Council is encouraging engineers "to learn and absorb foreign advanced technologies while making further innovations."

Since accomplishing the first maglev line, China has mastered the core technology required to build maglev rail tracks, one of four major systems supporting the advanced mode of transportation, and gained 20 patents in the field.

"Lowering the cost of a maglev system is a significant issue in the study and construction of the Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev railway we are now confident we can achieve that," said Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-minister of the NDRC.

"Our aim is to limit the cost of each kilometre of maglev line to approximately 200 million yuan (US$24.6 million)." This means that the unit cost will be cut by one third.

The government also suggests the Shanghai maglev line operator could improve its operating management and efficiency, extend operation hours and attract more passengers.

(China Daily 04/27/2006 page2)

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