Authorities in China are considering plans for a locally-designed magnetic levitation train with a maximum speed of 536kmph (333mph), similar to the cruising speed of some business jets. As a first step in the project, a 3km long, lower-speed section of track will be built in the northern city of Dalian starting later this year, according to the People's Daily.
Chinese media reports say the train will use a design based on permanent magnets for levitation, unlike existing Japanese and German maglev train technologies, which use either superconducting or traditional electromagnets. The designers claim their technology has received three international and three local patents so far, with applications having been lodged for a further 40.
"Combined with the abundant resources of permanent magnetic materials in China, our technology will be about 50 per cent cheaper than that of foreign countries," Li Lingqun, the chief engineer of the team designing the train told reporters.
The test line, part of a research project backed by the Dalian City government, will use a slower speed design, with a maximum velocity of 218kmph and an 'optimum' speed of 140 kmph.
China already has one working maglev line. The 30km (20mile) long line connects the city of Shanghai with its main international airport. It is the world's fastest in public service with a theoretical top speed of 500kmph and a maximum standard operating speed of 430kmph. A 170km extension of the system to the nearby city of Hangzhou is planned for completion by 2010.
Unlike the Shanghai maglev train, which was designed and built by a German-based consortium, the planned Dalian project has been locally developed so far. The trains typically 'fly' at an altitude of about 1cm.
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