Maglev trains don’t just achieve high speeds – aspects such as safety and reliability, high transport capacity, comfort, environmental friendliness and low maintenance costs also play an important role. China is unrivalled in its expansion of this sophisticated technology as it aims to close the speed gap between high-speed trains and aeroplanes.
The China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), the world’s largest rolling stock manufacturer, has developed a maglev train that can cover the route between Shanghai and Beijing in less than three hours, thanks to its maximum speed of 600 km/h. This speed is made possible by the magnetic levitation technology, whereby there is no contact between the train body and the track. Maglev trains have previously been difficult and expensive to construct, although the ongoing maintenance costs are lower than for conventional high-speed trains. Chinese engineers have now succeeded in developing a viable solution, using superconducting levitators that do not require extremely low temperatures to produce their electromagnetic effect.
While China is hard at work on a network of compatible maglev trains, several new high-speed magnetic railways are being built, including a direct connection between Shanghai and Hangzhou and another line between Chengdu and Chongqing. A maglev train from the previous generation with a top speed of 430 km/h is already operating in Shanghai and covers the 30 km stretch between Pudong Airport and Longyang Road station in around seven minutes.
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