Superfast maglev train may soon come to HK

Top News | Staff reporter 25 Mar 2021

A new high-speed maglev train capable of reaching speeds of 620 kilometers per hour could be introduced to Hong Kong once it is operational, says the Beijing transport ministry.

Maglev, derived from magnetic levitation, is a train system that uses two sets of magnets: one set to repel and push the train up off the track and another set to move the elevated train ahead, taking advantage of the lack of friction. There are currently only six operational maglev systems - in China, Japan and South Korea.

The train is still a prototype and could be operational in three to 10 years, the ministry said.

Wang Zhiqing, vice minister of transport, said he hopes once the train finishes its trial it can be used to connect Hong Kong, allowing the city to join the country's development.

Wang Yang, chief engineer at the ministry, said the train is advantageous as it is able to climb steep slopes, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

"We are proactively starting research and development work for the maglev train and have already built a platform for research and development as well as testing, while the trial run involving a prototype was also successful," he said.

"We will focus on solving technical difficulties in the next phase and run operational feasibility analysis. Construction will start once we possess all the conditions of building the project," he added.

China revealed the prototype in Chengdu, Sichuan, in January. The train runs on high-temperature superconducting power that makes it look as if it is floating along the magnetized tracks.

The sleek 21-meter-long prototype was unveiled alongside a 165-meter track to demonstrate how the train would look and feel in transit, according to Xinhua News Agency.

China is home to the world's largest high-speed rail network, which stretches over 37,000 kilometers, and the fastest commercially operating train - the Shanghai Maglev. The country's first high-speed maglev train began operating in 2003. Running at a top speed of 431kph, it links Shanghai Pudong Airport and Longyang Road in the eastern side of Shanghai.

Pro-Beijing media suggested that the new train may be able to reach Hong Kong from Guangzhou in around 20 minutes.

The Express Rail Link, which runs at a top speed of 300kph, takes 48 minutes to reach Hong Kong from Guangzhou, while an intercity through-train between Guangzhou and Hong Kong takes around two hours and cross-boundary coaches about three hours.

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