This morning, Chinese language news portal 163.com had a great scoop, and revealed the future planning for Shanghai and China’s Maglev railway system.
Shanghaiist’s Chinese ability is sadly limited, but using the new-fangled internet technology we reported on earlier this week, we were able to get the gist of the 163.com article.
The article reveals that the current 30km long section of the Pudong Airport-Longyang Road Maglev line will be extended to eventually form a giant T network. The first stage of the extension is planned to be finished in 2009. Firstly, a 37 kilometre extension will connect the Pudong International Airport to Hongqiao Domestic airport and pass via the World Expo 2010 site. The Maglev will also meet up with the Shanghai South Railway station, and the planned Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway station at the Hongqiao Airport. The second, and biggest Maglev extension (104 kilometres) will connect Hangzhou to Shanghai. In total, the whole Maglev network will be approximately 200 kilometres long.
A little further digging around on this announcement revealed that Shanghai blogger Wang Jian Shuo had this morning dug up a rail, metro and maglev route map that outlines how Shanghai’s mass public transportation system could potentially develop into between 2008 and 2012. Wang Jian Shuo also linked out to a new site to this little Shanghaiist, the Shanghai Metro Fan bulletin board on which we discovered (care of Google Translation tools) a few, lively discussions on the regarding this recent transportation development.
Of the positives coming out of this announcement, there now might be a convenient way to get into Shanghai (albeit not downtown) from PVG and to connect to the domestic airport in Hongqiao. The connection of the major transportation systems is another plus, which reflects the ‘Road to Nowhere’ situation of the current Maglev line.
While it is great to get caught up on the gadget and technology hype rollercoaster, Shanghaiist is also aware that these plans come at a cost for local residents. Recently, The Spiegel reported that a group of Shanghai residents have appealed to German Chancellor Angela Markel to stop the extension of the Maglev in Shanghai. This from The Spiegel article:
In a letter quoted in the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, the residents write: “The Transrapid project is curtailing the human rights of Shanghai residents, because the rights to health and existence are being ignored.” More than 1,000 inhabitants of the Tianyizou housing development in the Pudong district support the appeal, its authors told the newspaper. They are concerned about their health and security, as the safety distance between the houses and the maglev line extension has been set at only 22.5 meters — much narrower than the current Transrapid track. And the residents claim that there has been little notice or information about compensation given to those who are to be evicted.
This appeal is in light that the German Government together with multinational companies Siemens and ThyssenKrup under the guise of Transrapid International have developed the technology to be utilised in this extension.
Besides health concerns, there is also the displacement of thousands of residents to make room for the physical space required for this system. This from Monsters & Critics website:
A sign saying ‘Notice of Demolition and Resettlement’ is pasted to building No. 69 at the Plum Garden No. 1 housing development in the Xuhui district. An old man, who declined to give his name, gestured towards a group of his neighbours there and said: ‘We’re sad that we have to go.’
Thousands of residents in the districts of Xuhui, Minhang and Pudong have already been told that move they must. Many feel taken by surprise. Expressions of opposition have proliferated on the internet.
‘But the government has ignored the protests of all the people who live here,’ wrote residents of 1111 Shuyung Street in the Minhang district.
Some resident’s affected by this announcement have jumped on the net and formed their own protest site.
Let us remember the other impacts a 200 kilometre Maglev network could have as well. At the end of January this year, a high-speed bullet train service between Hangzhou and Shanghai commenced operation, with initial speeds of 160km per hour, following upgrades to tracks in April this year, could have the capability of running at 250km per hour. That is pretty fast, but not as fast as what the Maglev is reputedly able to reach (up to 430 kilometres per hour). The 200km Shanghai-Hangzhou journey is projected to take 26 minutes, but the slower train travelling at half the speed may take around an hour.
According to the railway-technology.com website, the Maglev extension is proposed to cost USD$36 million per kilometre. Yep, you read correctly. The original 163.com article also quotes a similar number, but also mentions that the current 30km long section between Longyang Road and the Pudong Airport cost RMB10 billion (USD$1.2 billion) and two and a half years to complete.
From these figures it appears the remaining 170 kilometres of the Maglev system will cost around RMB56.1 billion (at today’s exchange rate, USD$7.25 billion). Even though there exists a need to expand China’s rail capacity, Shanghaiist thinks that is an awfully expensive way to save 40 minutes on a train journey and we doubt that this money will be money well-spent.
A few other things to consider. We are sure that a lot of taxi drivers out at Pudong airport won’t welcome this news. Residents of tourist-swollen Hangzhou may think this is a blessing or a curse, and we’re sure the construction of a hyper-electric powered magnetic railway system will of great joy to China’s electricity
This is going to be one interesting story.
Shanghai Metro Fans website
Wang Jian Shuo’s blog entry
Proposed future Metro, Rail & Maglev map of Shanghai, care of Wang Jian Shuo’s Flickr photos
Railway Technology – Shanghai to Hangzhou Maglev system
Also on Shanghaiist
More Maglev… less Bund Tourist Tunnel
Witness the power of this fully operational Maglev
Shanghai to Hangzhou in 26 minutes
Hangzhou on my mind