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Maglev trains not a national option


The national authorities will rely on high-tech rail lines rather than maglev technology to improve the country's rail transport capacity, a senior railway official said over the weekend.

The comments came at a time when some operators have been using or are planning to use maglev (magnetic levitation) technology on relatively short local routes.

"At present, most countries use tracks. Maglev technology is a new means of transport that still needs to be researched and improved," said Wang Yongping, spokesman of the Ministry of Railways.

The National Development and Reform Commission approved a project last year that would use maglev technology on the Shanghai-Hangzhou Railway, though there have been no developments since the approval.

In contrast, Wang said, the Railways Ministry, which is responsible for building national rail lines, had "never chosen to use maglev technology" and thus had not done any research on it.

He added that the Shanghai-Hangzhou Railway and the maglev train serving Shanghai's Pudong Airport - the world's first commercial maglev train - are both local railways.

The Railways Ministry has been focusing on state-of-the-art track technology to upgrade the country's railway transport capacity. And since 2004, it has incorporated engine and car technology from France's Alstom, Canada's Bombardier, Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Germany's Siemens AG and the US's GE and EMD.

The bullet trains that have been running at 200 kph since the sixth railway speedup on April 18 rely on French and Japanese technology.

However, domestic manufacturers have built at least 70 percent of the country's high-speed trains. In addition, the country has built on the available technologies to develop even faster trains.

"A Chinese-designed 300-kph bullet train will roll off the line at the end of this year. It will be used on the Beijing-Tianjin passenger rail line next year," said Jiang Jing, chairman of the board of CSR Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co Ltd in Qingdao, Shandong Province.

He said at a press conference in Beijing on Sunday that his company would provide 10 of the new bullet trains for the Beijing-Tianjin line, which will open to traffic next year. The route is expected to cut the one-hour travel time in half.

Zhang Shuguang, director of the Railways Ministry's transport bureau, said the Chinese-designed train would lead the development of the country's high-speed passenger transport.

"(The train) will be used not only on the Beijing-Tianjin route, but also on the Wuhan-Guangzhou and Beijing-Shanghai routes," Zhang said.

Trains made by Tangshan Locomotive Factory under CNR Changchun Railway Vehicle Co Ltd will also ply the new high-speed routes. The company's trains use technology from Siemens.

From: ChinaDaily  2007-04-30 15:20

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Editor: Zhang Jialu
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