New 500 kmh Maglev Train Approved in China

The world's first intercity magnetic levitation train line, capable of running at up to 500 kmh (310 mph), will be built in China, authorities have confirmed today. The first section of the line is scheduled to open in 2010, China Central TV news reported.

The 170 km line, between Shanghai and the city of Hangzhou will be built despite protests from local residents, some of whom live only 20 meters from the line where trains will pass at the speed of an aircraft.

Shanghai Airport Magnetic Levitation Train (dtcreations / morguefile)The intercity line will be built in three separate projects. Only the first of these, a 38 km stretch from Shanghai to a satellite town, has been formally approved by Shanghai authorities.

The approval had been widely expected, and local familites have already been ordered to move so that their homes can be demolished, according to press reports. Construction is scheduled to begin as early as June.

An initial 30 km (20 mile) trial section of the maglev network, connecting Shanghai with its newest airport, has been in commercial service for more than a year. It was built by Transrapid , a Germany-based consortium. Transrapid is a joint venture between engineering firm Siemens and steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.

The train has run at more than 500 kmh (310 mph) in tests, but on the relatively short existing line, services operate at a maximum of 435 kmh. Early safety proposals call for the maximum speed of the intercity section to be between 450 and 475 kmh.