When the world's first commercial magnetic levitation railway - maglev, for short - went into service in Shanghai in January 2004, connecting its downtown district with the international airport in Pudong, even many Chinese doubted the wisdom of such extravagance.
The authorities had spent $1.2 billion to build the 30-km, 431-km-per-hour connection so that passengers could commute to and from the airport in 7 minutes and 20 seconds to be precise.
People wondered: Is this kind of time saving really necessary?.
Six years on, maglev isn't a debate anymore.
It's a trend that's clearly catching.
Last month, South Korea tested a driverless maglev train at the Incheon International Airport and hopes to have a 6.1-km track ready there by 2013.
The government is seriously looking to use the technology in other places as well to improve mass transit services.
Image: The Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev train to be built by Germany's Transrapid consortium (made up mainly by ThyssenKrupp and Siemens) and commissioned in 2014. The speed they are aiming for is 450 km/h, which would help the train shoot across the 169-km line in just 27 minutes.
Text: Barun Roy, Business Standard
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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