China starts trial run of first home-grown maglev rail line

China Railway high-speed Harmony bullet trains at a high-speed train maintenance base in Wuhan, Hubei province.
China Railway high-speed Harmony bullet trains at a high-speed train maintenance base in Wuhan, Hubei province.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China has begun a trial run of its first magnetic levitation train, completely designed and built by local firms, marking a major leap in the technological capability of the country's rail transport sector, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The so-called maglev, with a maximum speed of 100kmh, began ferrying passengers on the 18.5km-long line in the southern city of Changsha on Friday, Xinhua said, adding that the project cost 4.29 billion yuan (S$897 million).

The train works by floating on a magnetic field along a guideway, which allows for higher speeds and reduces friction."China has become one of the few nations to have mastered this technology," Xinhua said.

China is pushing its high-tech equipment firms to create home-grown brands as part of its "Made in China 2025" national plan, to move the economy away from the low-value manufacturing model, that fuelled its economy's meteoric rise.

The country already has the only commercial maglev in operation in the world, which was developed and built by the government, and a German consortium, including industrial giant Siemens in Shanghai in 2003.

The Changsha maglev was designed by a group of Chinese universities with CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive, a unit of CRRC Corp , which was created by a government-driven merger last year to export China's rail technology.