Shanghai-Hangzhou rail link to start

By Richard High06 February 2009

Construction of the CNY 29.7 billion (US$ 4.4 billion) high-speed passenger rail link between the cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou will start next month, after a review by China's planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Shanghai-based Baosteel Group, one China's largest steel makers, will invest CNY 3 billion (US$ 292 million) in the project, with the remaining cost equally shared by Shanghai and Zhejiang, Xinhua said.

Trains on the 159 km-long line will run at up to 350 km an hour, shortening the journey time to 38 minutes from more than one hour at present.

China is currently accelerating railway construction as part of a CNY 4 trillion (US$ 585 billion) stimulus plan announced in November.

Shanghai's existing 30 km maglev (magnetic levitation) line links its remote Pudong International Airport with a suburb, via trains that float along a magnetic cushion at top speeds above 400 km/hour.

The world's only commercially operating maglev train, it was partly developed and built by a German consortium including Siemens and went into service in 2003.

Chinese authorities hope to extend the maglev line to Shanghai's domestic Hongqiao airport and then to Hangzhou.

Shanghai's mayor said in September last year that plans for the conventional high-speed line could delay the extension of the city's maglev train line to Hangzhou, the scenic capital of adjoining Zhejiang province, reported state news agency Xinhua.

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