November 12, 2007

Shanghai Mag Lev, Finally

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I finally got my chance to take the mag lev train in Shanghai, on my way to Pudong Airport for my flight back today. The departure time for my flight was at 6:20pm, so I wanted to make sure to take the train before the 5pm so that I could experience the top speed of 430 km/h. Unfortunately I reached the platform just as the doors closed on the 4:45pm train, so I only experienced it at a slower 300 km/h.

The ride was a comfortable one, and of course it was fast. At this speed, it took about 8 minutes for the journey of some 30 km. But it was very different from what I expected.

My first experience with mag lev was in 1985 at the Tsukuba Expo, where JAL installed their experimental mag lev. That was a very smooth ride on a short, straight track, and there were absolutely no bumps.

On the Shanghai maglev, one could experience some vibrations. Perhaps this was the result of the track not being absolutely straight since it banked to either side to suit the terrain. This ride felt very similar to being on the Taiwan High Speed Rail, which also operates at around 300 km/h. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable experience. I would definitely ride it again during peak hour to experience the top speed.

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