Shanghai to extend maglev line to link airports

Shanghai plans to extend its underused magnetic levitation railway to link the city's two airports, a report said Tuesday, citing government officials. The state-run Shanghai Daily said the city authorities are seeking permission from the central government to extend the high-speed line, which runs to the city's eastern suburbs from its Pudong International Airport, to Hongqiao Airport, in the western suburbs.

The plan would allow travellers to move from one airport to the other a distance of about 55 kilometers (35 miles) in only about 15 minutes, it cited Xu Zheng, president of the government-owned Shanghai Construction Group, as saying. City officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The US$1.2 billion rail line is a showcase for Shanghai: the world's only commercial high-speed maglev, with a top speed of 430 kilometers per hour (270 miles per hour). But it runs well under capacity, both because ticket prices are relatively high and because its terminus is awkwardly located and lacks convenient public transport links.

Officials earlier denied reports that the government had approved plans to use German technology to link Shanghai and Hangzhou, a city to the southwest. The Shanghai Daily said the extended maglev line would run from the current terminus in Pudong through the site of the Shanghai World Expo, planned for 2010.

Routes and other details have not yet been decided, the report cited Xu as saying. It said officials would not give cost estimates for what was certain to be a multibillion-dollar project, reports the AP. N.U.