Thursday, June 17, 2010
Imagine if you will that you have put your ear to a seashell and are listening to the sounds it makes, that is kind of what the Maglev from Pudong airport to Shanghai proper sounds like at full speed. Maglev stands for Magnetic Levitation. Cars and tracks are designed to levitate the cars and for propulsion through magnitics. Some people refer to these trains as a linear motor car, but I don't think that is correct as linear motor car refers to the mode of propulsion (propulsion coils) rather than to the tracks and cars. Then again we call one train a steam engine and another a diesel even though they may run on the same track, so as you like.
The one in Shanghai is currently the most famous although there are other famous maglev trains such as those in Germany and Japan. The top speed ever recorded for a maglev train was in Japan at 581 kilometers per hour which in miles is something like 360.
This particular one transports people 30 km (18.6 miles) to the airport in just 7 minutes 20 seconds, achieving a top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph), averaging 250 km/h (160 mph). It is the fastest commercial train currently in use. I have to say that at the moments during which the train achieved top speed it didn't feel like it. It was suprisingly smooth.
We took the train both in and out of Shanghai, it was not so expensive, about 50 rmb which comes out to a little less than 10 dollars a ticket. I suppose if you had the time you would take a normal subway into the city, but we wanted to ride the special train. We thought it would be fun and it was.
The reason for being in Shanghai was to visit a school to see if I could get a job there and I did, so next year I can ride the maglev quite often if I like. I am sure with the number of people that said they would visit we will be riding it a few times at least. I am hoping the ride, in Shanghai next year, will be suprisingly smooth.