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January 19, 2011

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Maglev link plan is suspended

CONSTRUCTION of a Maglev train link between Shanghai and Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province is to be shelved, an official has revealed.

"It was a decision made by the central government after research by Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission," Liu Ting, deputy director of the commission, told China News Service.

He declined to comment on whether the decision was influenced by the opening of the Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed railway last October.

The planned 35 billion yuan (US$5.3 billion) Maglev service would take 38 minutes to travel from Shanghai to Hangzhou, only 10 minutes faster than high-speed trains.

Many people have said that it was unnecessary to spend tens of billions of yuan just to save 10 minutes.

This is not the first twist in the tale of the Maglev link between Shanghai and Zhejiang's capital city.

First approved by the State Council in 2006, the 175-kilometer Maglev line - which would be an extension of Shanghai's Maglev route - was suspended in 2007 as residents along the line feared it would emit radiation and were concerned about noise.

An assessment by environmental authorities, however, said the project was safe.

Sun Zhang, a rail professor with the city's Tongji University, said "Maglev is quieter than high-speed trains."

The noise made by Maglev trains at 400km per hour is about the same that of a high-speed railway train at 300km per hour, Sun said.

"It seems as though everyone wants to enjoy the higher speed but no one wants the line outside their front doors," said Sun.

The Maglev has a top speed of 450 kilometers an hour, but is limited to 200 kilometers an hour in downtown areas.

Shanghai has the country's only operational Maglev line, the 30-kilometer stretch linking Metro Line 2's Longyang Road station to Pudong International Airport.

The journey takes about eight minutes.


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