Sunday, August 13, 2006

Speed: 431 km/hour, Altitude: 10 mm

I took the world's first commercial maglev (magnetic levitation) train from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Shanghai this afternoon. The 30 km trip took eight minutes and reached a top speed of 431 km/hour, or about 268 mph. Pretty zippy. This is a lot faster than the operational speed of Japan's Shinkansens, which I've ridden many times (about 270-300 km/h or 168-186 mph, depending on the line and model). The Shanghai Maglev has been in commercial operation since 2004 and has reached 501 km/hour (310 mph) in test runs. When you combine this with its amazing and often weird high-rise architecture, you can really believe that Shanghai is the City of the Future. They are talking about a maglev line from Shanghai to Beijing to make that a 3 hour trip (currently a 2 hour flight or a very long train trip).

I wanted to provide a link to a general article on maglev technology, but when I tried to do this, I realized there is one thing the City of the Future doesn't have today: access to Wikipedia (I can't get to any Wikipedia pages, and I assume the IP addresses for this are blocked in China, from what I've read about internet policies here). Too much "controversial" content I guess. But this link gives the basic maglev info.

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