Metro line to overlap with maglev route

By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-24 06:49

SHANGHAI: Under this city's plan to extend metro line 2 to link its two airports with downtown, parts of the line will overlap with the suspended maglev rail extension.

Work on the metro line is to be completed before 2010, when Shanghai will host the World Expo, a local paper reported recently.

The extension represents a major reversal from a previous plan, under which the maglev train between Longyang Road and Pudong International Airport was to be extended westward to connect Hongqiao Airport, which handles most of the city's domestic air traffic, before the expo.

The high-speed rail services were intended to facilitate domestic and international flight transfers for visitors to the expo.

However, that project was suspended because of cost concerns and noise and pollution worries among local residents.

The existing maglev line, which began operating on December 31, 2002, cost 10 billion yuan ($1.32 billion). It has since wracked up losses of 1 billion yuan because of its high fares and the comparatively inconvenient locations of its stations. A one-way trip downtown costs 50 yuan on the maglev train. By contrast, airport shuttle buses cost about 20 yuan.

The estimated cost of expanding the maglev line was 6 billion yuan.

The project was initially approved, but was then suspended in May when residents near the planned route protested against possible noise and pollution.

Still, Xia Guozhong, an official with Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co Ltd, denied that the plan to extend the metro line meant the official cancellation of the extension of the maglev line.

He said that the two train lines are totally different even though they travel similar routes.

"The maglev train is much faster," he said. "We have never said the extension was cancelled."

He refused to comment on whether the extension of the metro line would reduce passenger numbers.

Jemimah Steinfeld, who has been living in Shanghai for nearly a year, said she takes a taxi and then the maglev when she goes to the airport.

"I not only find the maglev fast and efficient, but also fun," she said.

"I would consider taking the metro if it linked the airport to downtown, but it would depend how on long it takes."

The current trip on line 2, from Songhong Road near Hongqiao Airport to Longyang Road, takes about 40 minutes.

Traveling from Longyang Road to Pudong International Airport takes about eight minutes on the maglev.

Work on the extension of the metro line to Hongqiao Airport is underway.

(China Daily 07/24/2007 page3)

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