SHANGHAI (XFN-ASIA) – Shanghai officials have backtracked on state-media reports that plans to build a high-speed magnetic levitation train linking Shanghai and the eastern city of Hangzhou have been suspended due to health concerns.
Zhang Qing, a spokeswoman of the Shanghai government, said there has been no notice of any suspension of the project.
Separately, an official of the Shanghai Maglev Company, which operates the current maglev line in city, said he was also unaware of any project suspension.
On Sunday, the state-owned Xinhua news agency, citing unnamed Shanghai officials, reported that the 170 km project has been suspended following petitions from residents living along the proposed route worried about possible health problems from the maglev’s high powered magnets.
The maglev uses powerful magnets to drive trains at speeds of up to 430 km per hour.
Xinhua said feasibility is also in question as more than 40 bln yuan invested in the technology may not be recovered.
The project was expected to be completed in time for Shanghai’s hosting of the World Expo in 2010, according to Xinhua.
A spokeswoman for Transrapid International, a consortium between Germany’s Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp AG that builds the maglev trains, could also not confirm the news report.
In February, news reports said the consortium would likely be awarded a 1.2 bln usd contract to expand by 30 km the maglev line that now runs to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport from the outskirts of the city.
ThyssenKrupp said in a written statement last month that the planning process for a Shanghai extension was have ry advanced.’
The news of a possible suspension came during German President Horst Koehler’s visit to Shanghai.
The plan may also not have central government support.
‘Maglev is inappropriate anywhere in China due to inflexibility,’ said Li Hong, a high-ranking official with Institute of Transport and Communication under the National Development and Reform Commission, the state planning agency.
Li said that the super-high-speed maglev train will consume much more energy than conventional railways, and will result in ‘magnetic pollution.’
China is also developing its own maglev trains, state media have previously reported.
Citing a work blueprint by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Xinhua said a 30-km test railway for the maglev train will be built before 2010.