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Maglev may fail choice of Beijing-Shanghai rail
Updated: 2004-11-26 13:18

China is unlikely to use magnetic levitation trains for a high-speed rail link between Beijing and Shanghai, the Chinese News Service said on Friday, which would be a blow to foreign firms that had been hoping to take part in the deal.

"Although magnetic levitation technology is very advanced, the investment is too large and the engineering requirements are very high," Xu Kuangdi, a former Shanghai mayor and now head of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and deputy head of a political advisory body, was quoted as saying.

China's Ministry of Railways has not made a formal comment yet, but Xu's comments supported what the industry had already expected.

China is thought to be leaning towards traditional train technology for the planned 1,300-km (800-mile) link between the country's capital and financial centre.

With the price tag for a maglev line expected to run $40 billion, foreign companies such as Central Japan Railway Co. had been pitching their versions of the technology, in which a train floating on a magnetic field can hit speeds of up to 500 kph (300 mph).

Shanghai already has the world's first commercial maglev, a $1.5 billion line built by Transrapid, a consortium of engineering giants Siemens AG , ThyssenKrupp and the German government.

"Although the Shanghai maglev has operated smoothly, the Beijing-Shanghai railroad is 1,300 km, passing over many rivers, so there are some technical risks in using magnetic levitation," Xu was quoted as saying.

Siemens executives had already said that they did not expect China to use maglev trains on the planned Beijing-Shanghai line.

Siemens, France's Alstom , and Canada's Bombardier are among the foreign firms are still hoping to sell traditional train technology for the project.

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