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Shanghai maglev ticket prices cut by 1/3
(eastday.com/Shenzhen Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-15 14:15

Reacting to poor ticket sales, operators of the maglev train line in Shanghai announced Wednesday they would cut ticket prices, improve service and install an information desk and more signs directing passengers to the train at Pudong International Airport.

The world's first magnetic levitation train for commercial use, the Maglev, is showed in this January 1, 2004 file photo in Shanghai, China. Tracks for Shanghai's 430-kph (270-mph) magnetic levitation train are reported to be sinking. [AP]
Starting April 15, the price of a one-way trip on the world's first commercial maglev line will drop to 50 yuan (US$6) from 75 yuan, the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Company announced.

Return trip tickets will cost only 80 yuan, but such tickets are mainly meant for sightseeing trips as both parts of the ride must be taken within one day. Travelers using the line to get to and from the airport for an overnight trip will have to buy two one-way tickets. The cost of VIP tickets was slashed from 150 yuan to 100 yuan.

Ticket sales have been very slow since the line began offering regular daily trips late March. During the first week of regular operations, each train carried 73 passengers on average, well below their maximum seating capacity of more than 440.

Many passengers complained that prices were too high, there aren't enough signs directing the way to the maglev station at Pudong Airport and the walk between the airport station and terminals is too long.

The company said it will set up more signs and a maglev information desk inside the airport in reaction to complaints.

The signs, printed in both Chinese and English, will be placed near almost all major entrances and exits at the airport.

Track sinking poses no threat to safety

Builders of the world¡¯s first commercial magnetic levitation train said Wednesday that its tracks were sinking, but said engineers were dealing with the problem and tried to assure riders it would not affect safety.

The statement was issued after a Shanghai newspaper reported the troubled tracks and quoted experts saying it might affect the operation of the 430 kph maglev, which started regular operation this year.

The sinking was found during tests and ¡°adjustment measures were being taken,¡± the Shanghai Maglev Transport Development Co. said in the statement.

It did not give any details of the problem or how the company was responding.

¡°We discovered that in places there had been subsidence within the acceptable design range,¡¯¡¯ the statement said. ¡°This hasn¡¯t affected the train¡¯s safe running, although it does slightly affect comfort of the ride.¡¯¡¯

The US$1.2 billion maglev ¡ª which uses a powerful magnetic field to suspend trains millimeters above the rails ¡ª links Shanghai¡¯s new international airport with its eastern financial district.

The company said it took Shanghai¡¯s spongy soil into consideration when it designed the train and compensated by adding support to the track bed.

¡°The Shanghai maglev project was built on a foundation of soft soil, so some subsidence in the track is inevitable,¡¯¡¯ the statement said.

The comments generally matched comments by engineers who said some sinking was expected and could be handled by reinforcing the track¡¯s foundation.

Too much sinking, however, could affect safety, engineers said.

German companies spent decades and billions of dollars developing maglev technology, which gets its speed advantage from eliminating the friction between the wheels and track on a conventional train.

Shanghai agreed to buy the technology as a way to highlight the city¡¯s high-tech ambitions, although plans for its use on other rail lines in China remain in doubt.

The 440-seat trains carried an average of just 73 passengers per day last month, the Shanghai Daily said earlier this week.

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