China has taken delivery of the first section of a
futuristic high-speed train which levitates above
The German-built "maglev" train uses powerful
magnets to hold the vehicle a fraction of a
centimetre (inch) above the lines as it travels at
speeds of up to 400 km/h (249 mph).
Levitate on magnetic tracks
Can carry 600 passengers
Travel at up to 400 km/h (249 mph)
Weigh 100 tons
The driverless train will initially run on a 66
kilometre (41 mile) route between Shanghai's Pudong
international airport and the city centre.
If trials are successful, China is planning to
build a 1,250km (777 mile) maglev rail link from the
capital, Beijing, to Shanghai and other Chinese
A group of Chinese VIPs will be the first
passengers to ride the train, on a 30km (19 mile)
pilot run on New Year's Day next year.
The transport is likely to open to the general
public in late 2003, at 50 yuan ($6) a round trip.
The maglev technology has been developed and
tested in Germany and Japan over the past 30 years.
The train will initially run
German consortium Transrapid International (TRI)
won the first commercial maglev contract in January
China has so far bought three trains - 15
carriages - from the consortium, which comprises
engineering firms ThyssenKrupp AG and Siemens AG and
the German Government.
Germany will supply the trains and stations,
while Chinese companies will build the tracks.
The success of the Shanghai trial holds out the
prospect of future contracts worth $22bn for more
maglev links, possibly including a southern loop
joining Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
China is so far the only country to buy the
technology, at a cost of $1bn.
In Shanghai, there are still 2km (1.2 miles) of
track which have yet to be finished before the first
train can run.
Critics of the maglev trains say it is too
expensive and will waste energy.
They say high-speed trains already in use in
Japan and Europe can travel nearly as fast as the
hi-tech trains on standard tracks and have proven to