China renews hopes for German maglev project

China may resurrect a plan for the first long-distance route for the German-engineered high-speed maglev Transrapid train, official Chinese press agency Xinhua reported on Monday. But the project is likely to be delayed three years from its original timetable.

China renews hopes for German maglev project
A Transrapid train leaves the Shanghai train station. Photo: DPA

Construction will start no earlier than 2010 on a 200-kilometre (124 mile) extension for the only commercially-operated Transrapid line, the news agency reported, citing regional officials in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang. Representatives of Transrapid International said they had no official confirmation of the plan.

“We have heard nothing from official sources,” Transrapid spokeswoman Andrea Stichler said on Monday in Berlin.

The company had last been told that its 30-kilometre monorail between Shanghai’s city centre and international airport would only be extended to link the city’s domestic airport as well, Stichler said. Resurrecting a plan to run the line to the city of Hangzhou, 170 kilometres away, would be good news despite a later construction date, she said.

The Shanghai monorail has operated since 2003. It runs at speeds of up to 450 kilometres per hour.

Plans to construct a similar link in Germany between downtown Munich and its airport collapsed in March after the estimated cost of the project spiked from €1.85 billion ($2.72 billion) to almost €3 billion. The end of the German project concentrated hopes for the technology – developed by German companies Siemens and ThyssenKrupp – on the Shanghai project.

Protests from residents about noise and vibrations put the project on hold after an initial approval in March 2006. The monorail is planned to run just 22.5 metres above homes.

The extension was originally scheduled to open in 2010. According to Xinhua, the new plan would open the line no earlier than 2015 at an estimated cost of €3.5 billion.