New maglev projects in Beijing and Changsha City in Hunan Province will begin operations next year, amid controversy among nearby residents and experts about disruptions and the practicality of the trains.
The Beijing S1, or the maglev pilot line, linking the urban and rural regions, will be completed next year. It will become the second Chinese city following Shanghai — the world’s first — to have a maglev line for commercial use.
The Beijing city government initially planned to open two lines in the city, but was forced to cut one after protests from residents.
Meanwhile, the maglev line in Changsha will stretch 18 kilometers and run between the city’s airport, downtown and the train station.
Speeds on these services have been cut to 100 kilometers per hour — a third of the speed of Shanghai’s maglev service to Pudong International Airport — in the wake of controversy.
The service in Hunan will use China’s first domestically developed maglev train that rolled off the production line in early 2012 in the province.
The provincial government, the Changsha city government, its airport authority and train manufacturer, Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd., will share the cost of some 4 billion yuan (US$645 million), according to Xinhua.
“The medium and low-speed maglev service has lower noise level as well as cost compared with the subway service,” said Chang Wensen, a professor with the National University of Defense Technology and a maglev expert.
But Wang Mengshu, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the maglev is not practical.
“The service consumes huge amounts of electricity, along with radiation issues. That is the reason why Japan and Germany did not expand the service domestically,” Wang said.
Shanghai residents protested against a plan to extend the maglev route to Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province in 2008 over concerns about radiation and noise.