By Benjamin Cost
Shanghai metro authorities have almost finished installing the fastest metro train in the city’s history along the newly-constructed line 16 route – a 59-kilometer-track connecting Lingang New City to Longyang Road. According to subway officials, the 46 new ‘bullet’ trains will undergo a trial run sometime this year. By 2014, line 16 will open to the public.
The trains can shoot along at 120 kilometers per hour, 40 kph faster than the max speed of a normal Shanghai subway (only topped by the Shanghai maglev, which is not technically part of the metro). However, due to safety issues, the new trains will not hit top speed during regular runs between the line’s 13 stations. Even if authorities permitted the trains to go “turbo,” the scrunched distances between stops wouldn’t physically allow for it (which also means Shanghainese probably won’t be used on the intercom).
Not to let technology overshadow luxury, passengers will be seated in a horizontal airplane format to combat the travel fatigue inherent to the long distances of the line’s suburban network. The seating arrangement will also allow each car to house 20 more seats than your average metro carriage.
Now let’s just hope that technology and luxury don’t overshadow safety precautions, resulting in another “line 10” crash – a disaster that would be many times amplified if it involved a train that travels almost twice as fast.