CHANGSHA • 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 so-called maglev, with a maximum speed of 100kmh, began ferrying passengers on the 18.5km-long line in the city of Changsha in Hunan province yesterday, Xinhua news agency 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 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, reported Reuters.
The country already has the only commercial maglev in operation in the world. It 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.
Separately, China announced this week that more than half of new vehicles bought by central government departments will be new-energy cars within five years.
China is promoting new-energy vehicles as one of its key industries in the country's 13th Five-Year Plan which starts this year. Under the plan, the aggregate production and sales volume will hit five million in five years.
Already the world's largest car market since 2009, China topped electric car sales last year, with about 220,000 to 250,000 units sold, eclipsing sales of about 180,000 in the United States, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.