I was in Shanghai yesterday for a few hours. Friends advised that a taxi from the airport to the city centre would take about an hour. Others said Shanghai taxis are useless and prone to getting lost. I can’t tell you. I took the train!
Shanghai Pudong Airport is the terminus of the Shanghai Magnetic Levitated Train (or MagLev for short). This high speed railroad achieves maximum speeds exceeding 400 kilometres per hour (268 milers per hour). It’s been in service since April 2004 and makes the 19 mile journey in seven minutes.
In many ways it is an exciting and disappointing ride. The train gradually picks up speed leaving the station and in-coach displays show the rapid speed ascent. At 200 km I giggled. At 300 km I laughed. At 400 km I held on.
But then it was over.
The ability to speed at 431 km an hour is superfluous when the journey is so short. And the train doesn’t reach into the city centre. It stops on the outskirts. From there it was onto the Shanghai Metro. That train didn’t break speed records but it was efficient and cheap. My one-way fare was RMB3.0 – or US$0.46.
The ability to exceed land speed records on a sleek MagLev Train shows China at its finest. Yet the train stopping after a short journey leaving you far from your destination also shows just another challenge China faces. For a nation whose civilisation spans thousands of years, this is still a young country. It still has room to grow.
But China is catching up – at speeds that exceed 431 km per hour!